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More than just a front

We don’t need a new coalition that indulges in political opportunism but can frame alternative policies that improve livelihood opportunities for our people. Sitaram Yechury writes.

columns Updated: Apr 02, 2013, 02:38 IST
Sitaram Yechury
Sitaram Yechury
Hindustan Times

A process of deep churning in contemporary Indian politics seems to have been set in motion. The BJP has announced a new leadership team to steer its future prospects. For any political party, the choices it makes about its leadership are purely its internal matter. However, since the BJP is hoping to assume control over the reins of the central government, implausible as it may appear, the choices it makes evoke public concern. Among those elevated is the Gujarat chief minister who carries the baggage of the 2002 communal carnage. Yet another leader is out on bail facing criminal charges in a fake encounter case. Another charged for alleged hate speeches in the 2009 election campaign and another whose expression of unfiltered glee at the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was splashed across the country’s media have been elevated. And, so on…

It is clear that the BJP, established to function as the political arm of the RSS, is re-asserting its basics of seeking to implement the RSS’ ideological project of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ — a rabidly intolerant fascistic State. In the process, it seeks the metamorphosis (read Modification) of the modern secular democratic Indian Republic.

Independently, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav suddenly began talking in terms of a non-Congress non-BJP ‘third front’ government at the Centre. Not surprisingly, as is his wont of late, within 24 hours he announced that the SP will not withdraw its outside support to the UPA 2 government. Yet he predicts early elections! Why and how are your guesses!

Such a churning comes in the background of the growing uncertainty surrounding the UPA 2 alliance. This government was already reduced to a minority when the Trinamool Congress withdrew its support. With the DMK now doing so, it has been reduced to a further minority government. Its survival will now increasingly depend on the outside support that it garners from the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party. By now it is amply clear that such outside support is managed for the survival of the government either through enticements (whose cost rises in proportion with the inflation rate) or threats (such as the signal sent to the supporting parties by the CBI raids within 24 hours following the DMK’s withdrawal of support).

By now it is universally accepted that coalition governments are the order of the day. Way back in 1996, when the general elections threw up a fractured mandate, many had bemoaned that this is a regression of our democracy. Among the honourable exceptions was the Left which argued that far from being a regression, the 1996 mandate, in fact, reflected a process of the maturation of Indian democracy. The vast social plurality of India was bound to reflect in its politics. A political monolithic structure, like a single party rule, could not properly reflect this social diversity and plurality. We had then said that coalition governments would be the order of the day for some decades ahead. VP Singh was one of the few who endorsed such an understanding calling India itself as a “grand coalition”.

This understanding has been resoundingly vindicated during the last two decades. It is fairly certain that any government that will emerge following the 2014 general elections cannot be anything except a coalition. The question, however, remains over its composition and leadership.

This context throws up the irresoluble contradiction that will plague any coalition led by the BJP. If the coalition has to be strong enough to command the numbers of a majority, then the BJP would have to put its core communal agenda on the backburner. On the other hand, unless the communal agenda is aggressively pursued as directed by the RSS, the BJP would not be able to either consolidate or expand its own political base. This contradiction is already reflecting itself in the choices being considered by the BJP for its prime ministerial candidate based on its illusory hopes of winning the forthcoming election.

The BJP’s illusions remind me of a Telugu saying which loses its punch when translated but means: “Neither do I have a house nor a wife but my son’s name is Somalingam”.

Amid all such speculation concerning political permutations and combinations, the real aspirations of the people do not receive adequate attention. The economic slowdown, the relentless rise in prices of all commodities, the deepening agrarian distress — are all combining to mount unprecedented agonies on the people.

However, the moot point is that the much-needed relief which the people are hoping for will not come merely from a non-Congress non-BJP government. Relief can only come through alternative policies. What the people require, therefore, is not merely an alternative government but a government that can implement an alternative pro-people policy direction.

India has adequate resources for alternative policies which can provide basic rights to every Indian to live without hunger and to be provided with education, health, jobs and shelter. However, these resources are currently either being looted through mega corruption scams or are being siphoned off through policies that are designed to further enrich the rich and impoverish the poor. It is these policies that need to be changed.

Such a change in the policy trajectory in the country requires that the non-Congress non-BJP secular parties give up their political opportunism of forming a front merely for the sake of sharing the spoils of office but for forming a front for a government that will implement alternative policies which will significantly improve the livelihood conditions of our people and create a ‘Better Bharat’ for all Indians.

Sitaram Yechury is CPI(M) Politburo member nd Rajya Sabha MP

The views expressed by the author are personal

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