iconimg Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Hindustan Times
May 24, 2013
As the summer heat really sets in, the whole political debate seems centred on the Congress and the BJP. We have heard bits and pieces about other parties that have been in coalition with both, but nothing to really excite a debate. But the fact of the matter is that both the NDA and the UPA, now in its second avatar, have had coalition partners who are formidable forces in their own right. But what have we really heard about them in these last four years of UPA 2? Not all that much if you come to think of it.

The Left was quite a formidable force as an ally in the first round of the UPA. It went all out to scuttle the nuclear deal and did not manage to pull it off. It then spent much time telling an uninterested public how much it did for the economy, something which did not seem to have too many takers. Then of course, the Left lost much of its muscle with its defeat in the two states that it had considered its fiefdoms, West Bengal being a much bigger blow than Kerala. The Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party seem far more interested in besting each other in state politics than in coming up with any positive agenda for the government. It would seem that they almost forget that they are not elected to fight their personal and territorial battles, they are in the government or supporting it from outside to make contributions to legislation at the very least. But we have nothing very much on that front from these parties.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham was a part of the government till very recently. It pulled out on grounds which had very little to do with policy issues and much more with its own personal matters in the 2G scam. For a party which has a history of fighting on behalf of the less advantaged, this seemed a pretty poor way of accounting for itself. The BSP, whose calling card has been the betterment of the Dalits, has done little to promote that cause in the state which has seen it to power earlier. Instead, all the public will remember is the number of stone statues of elephants and of the BSP czarina and her handbags. This may not be an entirely proper representation of her credentials, but we have not heard much on governance from the BSP. The SP, which came to power on a bit of a high with a young, fresh chief minister, has also done very little to add to legislations and governance. All we saw of it was its tantrums when the UPA government seemed to be in trouble.

The parties that attach themselves to the major parties in a coalition formation should understand that they are not there for the free ride. They have to become a part of the governance procedure, which means that they have to come up with viable ideas for India, whether on the economic or social front. We have not seen much of that. This means that these parties can be at best passengers which is really not what they should be if they want to be taken seriously on the national stage.