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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

India

Elections in Gujarat may give rise to new political alliances
Indo-Asian News Service, PTI
New Delhi, December 11, 2002
First Published: 10:18 IST(11/12/2002)
Last Updated: 20:44 IST(11/12/2002)

Gujarat's elections have produced one result even before the state goes to the polls Thursday: new alliances in Indian politics.

With a slew of non-Congress politicians coming to the aid of the country's oldest party in battlefield Gujarat, the unpredictable is already happening with repercussions that will be felt nationwide.

Fifteen years after he deserted the Congress party, former Prime Minister VP Singh caused political turbulence by calling upon the voters of Gujarat to vote for his former party.

And two other once bitterly anti-Congress politicians, Ram Vilas Paswan and Laloo Prasad Yadav, have gone to the extent of campaigning for the Congress all over Gujarat, raising many eyebrows.

Although Yadav has been allied with the Congress for a while, he as well as VP Singh and Paswan have made it clear that their backing for the Congress has been necessitated by the terrible communal violence Gujarat witnessed this year, creating a Hindu-Muslim polarisation of with worrying consequences for the nation.

Besides these three veterans, both the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have teamed with the Congress to defeat the BJP in Gujarat.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which broke away from the Congress in 1999, has said it would be willing to give conditional backing to the latter in the event of a hung assembly.

The churnings are to be seen in the BJP camp too.

Disregarding the danger of denting her traditional Muslim support base, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati - who not long ago ran down the BJP and its ideology - has spoken in favour of the party in Gujarat.

And although no other BJP ally has come to the aid of the beleaguered party in the state, none of them has openly attacked Modi or BJP-allied rightwing groups blamed for the widespread attacks on Muslims - although some of them, like TDP, have been critical of the Gujarat violence.

Political analysts feel the developments in Gujarat could be a forerunner of things to come, with more and more parties gravitating towards either the BJP or Congress, giving the country a possible two broad rival coalitions.

For decades since India's independence in 1947, the Congress remained the dominant political force while the opposition was fragmented. This changed

in 1977 when the opposition ganged up to unseat the Congress in New Delhi for the first time.

As recently as 1997, when a Congress-backed centre-left coalition ruling India collapsed, some of the coalition members refused to prop up the Congress because of their long-time antipathy to the party.

"Anti-Congressism" became almost a creed with many regional and centre-left parties such as various constituents of the original Janata Dal. Many such groups still speak of a third front whenever there is a talk about providing an alternative to both the Congress and BJP.

This, it is now felt, could undergo some changes. The decision of some non-Congress politicians to come out openly in favour of the Congress, knowing only the latter can humble the well-knit BJP in Gujarat, is the first indication of this happening.

Said political analyst VB Singh: "It is a good gesture by non-BJP parties to campaign for the Congress because it is becoming more and more clear that there cannot be a single-party government in the centre in the next few years.

"So the non-BJP parries have realised that they need a credible alliance to fight the BJP, and this fight has to be spearheaded by the Congress because the BJP and Congress are the two main parties of India.

"Gujarat shows there are only going to be two fronts: one led by BJP and another by Congress in the long run. It is a good beginning."


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