Politics makes strange bedfellows, and this is about as odd as it gets. The TMC, the JD(U), the Congress, the Left and the RLD ostensibly came together at a function to commemorate Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, and it was Mamata Banerjee’s remarks to the Left on why the BJP has found such a foothold in West Bengal that set the dovecotes aflutter with speculation that all these parties could come together to form an alliance. This is fine, but the only thing they have in common appears to be that they are against the BJP — not the best foundation for any political formation.
It is true that perhaps there should be a countervailing political force to the BJP. But the foremost requirement is that it has a positive agenda for the nation.
Let’s look at the TMC. Until now, its avowed aim was to destroy the Left in West Bengal. And it has succeeded in this to a great extent. But, Didi seemed to suggest that at the national level she was willing to sup with the enemy. In which case she should also be aware that there are certain national issues in which she has to take a different view from the ones she takes in the state.
The Teesta water-sharing agreement, which she scuttled during the UPA 2, is a case in point. Earlier, the Left was determined to derail the Congress’ economic agenda — now it seems to have no problem with that given that the BJP is willing to go even further. The JD(U) and the RLD have nothing in common with the other parties and it must be recalled that earlier both the TMC and the JD(U) were not averse to allying with the BJP.
As of now, the public mood seems to be fed up with coalitions. But nothing is permanent in politics and so the first thing that the dramatis personae, who wish to form an alternative, have to do is to sit down and work out points of agreement and then a positive blueprint.
For any formation to make a difference, it must be able to provide a very powerful alternative vision to Mr Modi’s coherent one. This is a tall order and past experience does not fill us with confidence that these formations can step up to the plate. But then, politics is also the art of the impossible on occasion.