Uncertainty prevails after Lok Sabha polls

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Uncertainty prevails after Lok Sabha polls

Monday, 10 June 2024 | Kumar Chellappan

Uncertainty prevails after Lok Sabha polls

Congress, with its allies, gains strength as Opposition. Modi adapts to a new landscape, reliant on diverse regional satraps for support

The dust has settled and the performers are back in their homes as the great election carnival has come to an end. What pervades all over India is a sense of uncertainty and indecisiveness. No political parties have an absolute majority of their own to form the Government though the National Democratic Alliance (also termed as Non Dependable Allies) has nearly 300 MPs, 27 more than the halfway mark. Though the Congress, the main player in the opposition, could not touch the three digit mark, together with its allies, the party has emerged as a striking force.

While reporting about the Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken by Rahul Gandhi, The Pioneer had forecast that it was going to be the gamechanger of national politics. The question is whether Rahul could maintain the initial enthusiasm generated by the Yatra. He was handicapped by the absence of a team of leaders who could rise up to his expectations. Better luck next time.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not his normal self when addressed the party cadre on the day results were announced. Something was missing from his hitherto confident voice and the speech failed to inspire the party ranks, a rare incident in his decade long avatar as Prime Minister. This is not Narendra Modi who is familiar to the electorate. Modi had made a grant entry to New Delhi in 2014 after winning the Lok Sabha election. He had 282 seats of his own and 336 with the support of his alliance partners. The people offered India on a platter to Modi in the 2019 election despite the sustained campaign by a section of the New Delhi media. The BJP on its own won 303 seats while the NDA had 353 seats which made Narendra Modi the monarch of all he surveyed.

But 2024 turned out to be an entirely different scenario. The charismatic, uncompromising and powerful Modi is at the mercy of two regional satraps with national ambitions, Nitish Kumar of JD(U) and Chandrababu Naidu of TDP. Even before the NDA held its first meeting, Kumar and Naidu had put forward a set of demands including conducting the caste census and scrapping the Agniveer Scheme. Equally important is the opposition of these two leaders to the Uniform Civil Code, a dream project of Modi as well as BJP. These are in addition to Naidu’s demand for the post of Speaker and four or five berths in the union cabinet. Nitish too has demanded an equal number of berths in the cabinet and that too with the coveted ministries like Railways, Agriculture and Rural Development.

Cut to 2014 when Narendra Modi led the Lok Sabha election campaign for the first time. Television images aired pictures of a sheepish Chandrababu Naidu walking behind Modi throughout the campaign yatra in Andhra Pradesh. Within two or three years, Naidu walked out of the NDA, cursing and abusing Modi. His ire was directed against the Prime Minister’s refusal to accord Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh. He walked over to the Congress camp and declared that his mission was to oust Narendra Modi from the post of Prime Minister as well India. Some media even reported that Naidu is a strong contender for the top post of the country. But the 2019 assembly election shattered Naidu’s dreams. Jagan Mohan Reddy, leader of YSR Congress, demolished Naidu in the assembly election with a massive win and was sworn in as chief minister. As part of his objective of finishing TDP once and for ever, Reddu launched a thorough probe into the charges of corruption against Naidu, his family and friends. Three years ago, Naidu’s six-year old grandson Devansh had assets worth Rs 19.55 crore and there was nothing abnormal in an investigation by the Income Tax officials. Naidu faces a series of corruption charges for which he was arrested and imprisoned for months by the Jagan Mohan Reddy Government. When it was time for the 2024 assembly election, Naidu felt the need of support and that was how he cast his lot with BJP and Modi, till then his bête noir. Having got nore than what he aspired for, Naidu has set his eyes on the chair of the Prime Minister. We cannot expect anything better from a person who stabbed his father-in-law N T Rama Rao, the founder of the TDP and usurped the proprietorship of the party.

Nitish Kumar is no different from Chandrababu Naidu. He is emblematic of the Aaya Ram, Gaya Raam phenomenon in Indian politics. Even late Arjit Sen, the ace radio commentator of football and hockey matches may find it tough to describe Nitish’s defection from one front to another laced with speed, agility and the Perfect 10 landing. It is not possible to say whether Nitish Kumar would be with the NDA by the time this article goes into press and reach the hands of the readers. Naidu and Nitish are two deceiving crutches and can lead Modi to a “no man’s land” with their “dedication”.

Both TDP and JD(U) are secular and liberal parties and that settles the issues. Naidu and Nitish have been entrusted with the task of saving secularism from “communal” BJP and once the mission is achieved they would cross over to INDI Alliance, a rainbow alliance launched by Nitish Kumar himself. The BJP is in a Catch-22 situation. Chandrababu Naidu has won Andhra Pradesh assembly election with a brutal majority despite the good works done by Jagan Mohan Reddy and Modi has become extra-luggage for the TDP leader. Naidu was instrumental in easing out the then Prime Minister Deve Gowda in 1997 after a ten month tenure much to the anguish of the latter.

Now come back to 2024. The present political imbroglio is BJP’s own making. How many of us remember the five day long crisis in Maharashtra when Devendra Fadnavis, the then leader of the opposition was sworn in as chief minister in 2019 with Ajit Pawar (NCP) the chief minister only to make an ignominious exit after four days. Fadnavis and the BJP had termed Ajit Pawar as the embodiment of corruption but they found no qualms in forming a coalition Government with him. Despite Ajit Pawar returning to the Pawar Parivar within two days of swearing in as deputy chef minister dumping the BJP, Fadnavis solicited him again and right now the former is back in the Hindutva fold. Fadnavis should have understood the truth that BJP can never compromise with a dynasty party. Having failed to cross the magic figure (having failed to cross the half line mark) in the legislative assembly, the best option for him was to bid his time till the next assembly election or the disintegration of MVA. But he was in a hurry to become the Prime Minister of the country and this forced him to commit the hara-kiri. This reminds us of the kamikaze by Choudhri Charan Singh in 1979 ostensibly to teach the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai a lesson. Choudhri Saheb went down with the Janata ship and could not stage a comeback.

And the most important thing about the 2024 election is another hara kiri by J P Nadda, the BJP president. His declaration that the BJP has no links with the RSS and his outfit is free of “Bhagwa Dhwaj” , the flag of the Maratha Empire and emblematic of the followers of Hinduism. Nadda’s claim was a cardinal sin because without Bhagwa, there is no Sanatana Dharma. The saffron is the color of Hinduism and all Sanatana organizations. The disownment of the Bhagva hurt the RSS karyakartas and swayam sevaks forcing them to cry off from the campaign trail. “Our flag was apparently created by Lord Indra himself. The flag carries the saffron color of the Lord. We chose the flag for our kingdom. The flag represents humanity and we need to ensure that we live up to its representation,” Shivaji, the great Maratha emperor is quoted as telling his ministers and commanders. It is time for Nadda to move out of the presidency of BJP. He has neither inspired nor enlightened the people through his words and actions. With nothing to show as his credentials, Nadda is a burden for the BJP and Sangh Parivar. The ouster of Naddha is the need of the hour. What the country needs is a leader who is capable of generating oneness and enthusiasm amongst the Hindus. Nadda should read and learn about two gentlemen from South India, K Kamaraj and S Nijalingappa, both former presidents of the Congress and were rated as titans of Indian politics. (It is a sad twist of history that we have only Congress leaders wearing Titan watches made by the House of Tatas!). Nadda is occupying the seat which was once held by the likes of A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. BJP should identify persons with leadership qualities. Nadda has no qualities to be in that chair. The 2024 election has thrown a fractured mandate even as the BJP has emerged as the single largest party. Rahu Gandhi should remember the fight between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in the Wimbledon championship. McEnroe was beaten by Borg in a marathon five setter in 1980 but the former came back to claim the championship in 1981 by defeating Borg. Tennis and Politics have a lot of similarities.

(The writer is a special correspondent with The Pioneer; views are personal)

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