Monday, 7 May 2018
Coalition Politics – What lies ahead?
Politics is the art of the impossible and no one recognises this opportunity better than all the political parties in India. Yesterday’s sworn enemies become today’s bosom buddies. Ideologies be damned. All the past vitriolic comments against one another are glossed over for the time being. Their dharma is simply “the end justifies the means.”
As the next general election draw closer, the age of coalition politics is back again.
Coalition governments have failed regularly and repeatedly in the past and yet they seem to be the only answer for the failing political parties who do not see any options for their own survival. These political parties know that the only way to a possible victory in the elections is to somehow pool their votes and their voters and cobble together a plan to defeat the powerful Bharatiya Janata Party which seems to have made a habit of winning elections.
The leaders of these parties assume that the Indian voter can once again be fooled into believing that these sworn political enemies have abandoned all their differences and agreed to come together in the interest of their states and only to further the interest of their voters!
Look at the coalition “arrangement” that came together in Bihar. Nitish Kumar and Laloo Yadav had always been at logger heads and yet they managed to convince the voters that they are willing to bury their differences and come together for the benefit of Bihar. Within a few months, cracks started to appear on the surface of these supposedly strong bonds. There was nothing in common between these two leaders and their parties. They came together on a “defeat BJP” platform and it is shameful that they were not able to stay together. The break up was waiting to happen.
The most unlikely coalition between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, between Bua Mayawati and Bhatija Akhilesh Yadav came together for the recent bye-elections and once again managed to convince the voters of their long lost love with one another. Their success has encouraged them to announce that they will come together for the general elections. They may win a few seats as well but how long can their diverse ideology be covered up or set aside? What will happen when key handouts have to be shared like Rajya Sabha seats and lucrative Government positions? How soon will the claws be out again?
The communists do not like the Congress but they are willing to come together. The NCP of Sharad Pawar has always had differences with the Congress but these can be conveniently forgotten. The Shiv Sena has always fought elections with the BJP. One little weakness after the UP bye-elections encouraged them to try to go their own way and it is a matter of time before either they will seek an alliance with the Congress or come back to the BJP. Chandrababu Naidu walked out in a huff but his grand plans of bringing together a no-confidence motion came to naught. What next for him? Will he convince his voters again and come back to the NDA?
The Mahagathbandhan, before the next general elections is being discussed by all political parties. The challenge that needs to be addressed is that who will be announced as the leader to become the Prime Minister in the unlikely event this motley group manages to scrape through with a majority.
As a thinking individual, I shudder when I think of the following as one possible scenario of the future Government of the Mahagathbandhan.
Can we imagine a Government with Mayawati as the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi as the Deputy Prime Minister, Maran as the Finance Minister, Sharad Pawar as the Defence Minister, Mulayam Singh as the Foreign Minister, Mamata Banerjee as the Railway Minister and Laloo Yadav as the Home Minister?
Then there would be representatives of the smaller regional parties who would be given important ministerial berths. Imagine a cabinet with ministers from the Shiv Sena, the BJD, the TDP, the DMK and dozens of other parties. Each individual will bring the personal agendas of their party leaders with them and seek an early resolution of their own challenges and issues.
And, we must not forget that the frustrated BJP leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha who are expected to work against the BJP in the next elections will also demand their pound of flesh and expect to be accommodated in the Council of Ministers!
Would this be a Coalition Government or a Collision Government?
Whichever way we look at it, the scenario is frightening.
Will Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party ever accept playing second fiddle to the regional satraps? Will all the other senior regional leaders accept Rahul Gandhi as their leader? Will all these leaders ever be able to sink all their differences? Or will they, in an ostrich like manner, take cover under the challenges of coalition dharma, much like Manmohan Singh did when he chose to ignore all the corruption in UPA 2?
The Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has delivered what they had promised. Forget all the interpretations that are being made by a few journalists who have, understandably, lost a lot of their prominence in this Government. Such journalists have to find something to criticise all the time and hope that some of their allegations will stick. Secularism and minority appeasement are subjects that people like to talk about.
Every economic parameter is significantly better than it was in 2014. India stands tall in the comity of nations around the World. India is now well positioned to take a leadership role in the World. Our borders are secure. Our foreign exchange reserves are at a record high. Our industry is working. Black money is under control. We are one of the few countries in the World with a single tax across the nation. There is not a single case of corruption against this Government.
The voter knows the benefit of a clear majority that brings a stable Government in the country. They understand and recognise what this Government has delivered at the centre and they have seen the substantial improvement in the infrastructure but they also know much more needs to be done. Bringing back regional parties who will fight one another at the centre will be a retrograde move and every voter recognises the vulnerabilities of such selfish alliances.
One five year term can never be enough to deliver on the promises by any well-meaning Government. Major structural changes have been done by this Government and the impact of these changes will be felt in the coming years. India is growing at record levels each year and is well positioned to grow at over 8% per annum in the next 5 years.
The BJP workers need to keep their head down and keep working closely at the ground level reasserting all the achievements of this Government. The BJP leaders need to learn to keep their mouths shut and stop making silly pronouncements on controversial topics. No matter how strong the urge to pontificate, these leaders would be well advised to simply say “no comments.”
The voters will bring back the BJP with a simple majority in the next elections and evaluate how the Government will deliver on the promises made.
The BJP and its leadership must not panic in the run up to the elections.
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. A keen political observer, he is an Angel Investor and Executive Coach. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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