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December 20, 1997


Rajiv Shukla

A Hung House

Whatever the permutations and combinations, that's what we are headed for...

Following the dissolution of the 11th Lok Sabha, various political parties are making desperate moves to manufacture poll alliances. But with no political party or group in any position to gain an absolute majority, we are, in all probability looking at a hung 12th Lok Sabha.

I am just not able to understand why some political heavyweights got this House dissolved for the sake of their own personal enmities and jealousies. After all, what is the point in spending more than Rs 20 billion, if all that the country gets at the end of it is another hung Parliament? Apart from the direct electoral expenditure, the atmosphere of political uncertainty will also cause serious damage to our economy.

In my view, six people should be held responsible for the dissolution of the House: Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Chandrababu Naidu, H D Deve Gowda, V P Singh, Sitaram Kesri, and I K Gujral. The prime minister was guilty of giving up his government without a fight. With some effort, the United Front and the Congress could have formed a government under the leadership of P A Sangma or G K Moopanar or Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Now, various permutations and combinations are being worked out in various states among different political parties. The situation is particularly complex in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as the fight appears to be multi-cornered.

And things are hotting up in Bihar and West Bengal, as well.

In Uttar Pradesh, there is talk of the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the BSP joining hands to fight the BJP. But nothing is certain, yet. Congress vice-president Jitendra Prasad insists that the Congress should contest the UP polls alone. But Kesri is keen to have an alliance with Mulayam. Then again, Mulayam might offer 25 seats to the Congress and if the deal does not work out, he may decide to go it alone. The Samajwadi chief is understandably wary of entering into another alliance with Kanshi Ram and Mayawati.

In Tamil Nadu, former chief minister Jayalalitha is in no mood to enter into any kind of alliance. She realises that in the last 18 months of DMK rule, no political party came forward to support her. She also believes that the current Congress leadership is paying more attention to TMC chief G K Moopanar than to her. So, she is likely to contest alone and aim for 20 to 25 seats. The TMC has no choice but to go along with the DMK once again. There is some talk of the TMC contesting with the Congress.

In Bihar, it is almost certain that the Rashtriya Janata Dal will have a poll alliance with the Congress. Gujral is also likely to try and convince Laloo Prasad Yadav to tie up with the Janata Dal. But Laloo is most upset with Dal leaders like Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan and is eager to each them a lesson. The former Bihar CM is also determined to snap ties with the Left.

In West Bengal, a multi-cornered contest is on the cards with Mamata Banerjee ready to contest under the Trinamool Congress banner. She could well go ahead with her plans unless Sonia Gandhi takes the lead in the Congress' poll campaign.

Rajiv Shukla

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