Five states will go to the polls for the 'semi final' matches to the imminent Parliamentary elections.
The assembly polls will be held in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana. However, we cannot brush aside the likelihood of conducting Parliamentary elections along with this poll. The upcoming election which is highly crucial for every party and coalition, is sure to set the stage for several political experiments, the heat and the pressure of which has already been experienced. A 'grand opposition alliance' that has been tested in different parts of the country and assessed as a success to an extent, was for the first time, expected to be repeated in these places in a broader sense. However, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) leader Mayawati's decision to go it alone in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, is likely to raise skepticism that it would eliminate the prospect of an alliance. Mayawati who had earlier declared that she would contest jointly with Ajit Jogi, the Congress dissident in Chhattisgarh, made the party stance clear after hurling sharp criticisms against the Congress leaders the other day. Mayawati's withdrawal is not only a heavy blow to the Congress which is prepping for a strong comeback in these three states; but the move has also lent much confidence to the BJP sources.
In the Karnataka assembly polls held in May the BJP was kept away from power by the Congress-Janata Dal (S) alliance despite the BJP emerging as the largest single party. Most of the leaders of the opposition parties in the Parliament had then attended the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. A grant opposition alliance under the leadership of the Congress has been evolving indiscernibly since then. Actually, such a political experiment had taken place during the Lok Sabha by-polls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh two months ago. It was the resignation of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath which paved way for elections in Gorakhpur. The Samajwadi Party (SP) emerged victorious there and in Phulpur with the help of BSP. The grant alliance which gained strength after the Karnataka elections, seized BJP's Parliamentary seats in Kairana, UP and Bhandara in Maharashtra. Amidst this, the BJP also lost a few assembly seats in a similar manner. It was when the grand alliance was emanating huge expectations for the people who have already lost hope in Modi's Fascist governance, that 'behenji' who has been in the forefront of that alliance withdrew. Hints about Sharad Pawar, the leader of NCP which was very much in the opposition front, shifting allegiance to Modi's fold, is also being heard from within the party. The exit of these leaders disappoints the country's secularists who dream of a new India in 2019. The stance of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to contest alone should also be read along with this.
All the same, we should not lose sight of the fact that Mayawati has hit out against the Congress not without leaving some thin indications of reverting to the grand alliance. Even as she repeats the accusation that the Congress is trying to decimate BSP, she does not blame Rahul Gandhi or UPA president Sonia Gandhi; she has reserved all her fingers of accusation for 'other leaders' like Digvijay Singh. In other words, one has to see her broadside as emanating from disagreements about seats; BSP had asked for 50 of the 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh, and in Rajasthan for more than 200 seats. These are the two states where the Congress is hoping for a comeback, and naturally it is not willing to part with that many seats. And that is the core issue leading to the explosion. For that very reason, it will be no wonder if after the hurley-burley of the state assembly elections Mayawati makes a comeback to the Opposition alliance – especially as she has made it clear that BJP is the arch foe. This expectation is perhaps the reason why Congress leaders have generally reacted to Mayawati's criticism with restraint. Still, the chasm is sure to be substantially beneficial to the BJP as things stand now. These developments also give a flavour of the kind of crises that can happen within the front even if the 'grand alliance' takes shape officially. Divergence of views is inf act making grand alliance complex, which is the real crisis. Only through a common minimum programme rooted in convergence of ideas, can such complexities be minimised and overcome. What the country seeks now are comprehensive plans for a new India, corruption-free, secular and strong in equality, far beyond being merely 'anti-Modi'. The grand alliance can become a hope for tomorrow only if it can present before the people ideas and slogans for overcoming the sufferings of these dark times. But if, instead of that , it makes a musical chair of power disputes its main agenda, these political tragic plays will just keep repeating.