The mating season

Published on May 13, 2004 11:05 AM IST

It's a season of alliances. Whoever forms the next govt, it will be a coalition.

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With the silly season behind us, can the mating season be far behind? One thing that all the exit polls It's mating season. Whoever forms the next govt, it will be a coalition.haven’t gone ‘um-sy’ about is that whatever colour the next government wears, it’ll be a coalition. The formation of such an entity presupposes the coming together of forces who have something in common — beyond the desire to come to power, that is. But with election results out today, there is bound to be the usual display of post-poll mating rituals. As when scanning matrimonials for a partner of one’s choice, the two big parties will be thinking carefully before taking the plunge with a potential ally. How many seats each party brings to the table, of course, will be paramount. But both the BJP and the Congress know the perils of taking friends for granted.

There is an alignment one can see even before the dating-game begins. The Congress has the Left parties on its team — although the practice of opposing each other in West Bengal and Kerala and singing hosannas elsewhere can be a bit confusing for the rank and file. Then there’s the glue of ‘anti-communalism’. But that adhesive isn’t always strong enough to influence and win over some friends. Single-state parties such as the SP need something more than just membership in the ‘Secular Club’. So like the BSP, the SP and other regional parties remain floating parties, weighing the pros and cons before finally ‘committing’. The BJP, with its NDA experience on its CV, is more adept at playing the coalition game. But it, too, must woo allies carefully to make sure that it isn’t left high and dry like the time when the AIADMK left the happy NDA family in the lurch.

So what does it take to form a good coalition? A common minimum programme helps, as does a basic socio-economic vision. There must be a clear functional head in the coalition animal. Otherwise, there may be the unfortunate case of one part pulling so hard that the body simply tears apart.

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