News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » News » Will TDP, JD-U Toe BJP Line On Hindutva?

Will TDP, JD-U Toe BJP Line On Hindutva?

June 05, 2024 12:09 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

The TDP and JD-U will have a lot to answer inside Parliament, day after day, session after session, notes N Sathiya Moorthy, notes N Sathiya Moorthy.

IMAGE: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra D Modi with Telugu Desam Party President Nara Chandrababu Naidu in Varanasi, May 14, 2024. Photographs: ANI Photo

If the Bharatiya Janata Party-National Democratic Alliance comes back to power with the poll-time alliance intact, then, at least allies like the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal-United should be prepared to be embarrassed and/or 'exposed' in the new Lok Sabha, again, again and again, on the mainstay BJP's 'communal crimes', real and imaginary, from the past to the present to the future.

Should both parties then decide to stay away from any vote on any Opposition-sponsored resolution or parliamentary initiative of the kind -- or, decide to abstain from voting -- the chances are that the government may be reduced to a minority on that score -- not that it should cause any great disturbance or distress beyond a simple storm in the tea cup.

There are enough tacticians in the Opposition camp, starting with Sharad Pawar, who, of course, did not contest the Lok Sabha polls this time and last, but still can guide the team from outside.

There is enough legislative talent, especially in the Congress leader of the INDIA bloc, as the party has emerged stronger than in the past ten years and has also proved that on its shoulders should rest the credit for an impressive showing by the combine -- hence the responsibility to carry it forward for the next five years, through intervening assembly elections in many states.

The Congress under Rahul Gandhi, like under his mother Sonia Gandhi, has learnt its lessons.

Where the party had to play second fiddle as in UP, it did so to the Samajwadi Party -- and both of them together did well.

The party worked together with the Shiv Sena and NCP factions under former chief ministers Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra -- and so on.

This has been the Congress formula in Tamil Nadu for long, but the high command under P V Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri, in the 1990s, had problems adapting it to other states, especially those in the Hindi belt, where the Congress had been reduced to a shadow of its original self.

Sonia Gandhi changed all that for Elections 2004 and the Congress-United Progressive Alliance could win two successive Lok Sabha polls, in 2004 and 2009.

The problem, at the time, was not necessarily with then prime minister Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.

It would not have been even about the 2G scam and the Commonwealth construction fiasco, ahead of Elections 2014.

Instead, it was about Rahul Gandhi's unwillingness to wear the ministerial mantle, under Dr Manmohan Singh, so to say.

He was the de facto, and after a point, the de jure leader of the party, and could not have run away from shouldering the responsibility of governance as his mother with her own inherent limitations was forced to do in 2004.

If anything, in his mother's place, Rahul should have joined the Manmohan Singh government, maybe as minister in the prime minister's office, and thus learning the tricks of the trade from no less a teacher than the don himself -- be it political administration or economic management.

Rahul dithered, and Dr Singh became one more of 'accidental prime ministers' from V P Singh on.

When Rahul presented himself as being unsure and tentative to his own party by not shouldering responsibilities that belonged to the 'first family' of the Congress, then it became easy for the rival BJP to cheapen the comparison to call him a 'pappu'.

On that score, the Congress failed to measure up to hit back at the BJP, which was operating to the new found social media activists, real and more so, imaginary. This included those operating on both counts from overseas, or against payment.

Conversely, if and only Rahul had joined the Singh government under UPA-1 and graduated to become the combine's prime ministerial candidate in 2009, which anyway, they won, it could have been a different story, after all.

At least there would not have been the 'after-me-the-deluge' kind of despondency identified with UPA-2, also under Singh.

IMAGE: Modi meets Janata Dal-United President Nitish Kumar in New Delhi, June 3, 2024,

Today, the question is if Rahul would want to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, which is legit for the party and for himself as the chief campaigner and also strategist.

INDIA partners may not have any problem with it though the likes of Mamata Banerjee can be expected to sing a discordant note at times.

It all depends on the next government, if led by the BJP and Mo-Sha combo if they want to play their divisive politics viz parties and Opposition alliances.

Having walked into Parliament only as prime minister at the zenith of his national acceptance without any previous legislative or administrative experience, Modi, if continuing as PM for a third term, does not know how to do it otherwise.

Less said about Amit A Shah's attitude to parliamentary practices the better.

The problem for the BJP-NDA, if they stake power and take it too, will be in Parliament.

Through the past ten years, they have got things done by bulldozing both Houses both by Executive initiative and Legislative behaviour, both of them unacceptable in a parliamentary democracy.

With Modi and Shah doing all the shouting themselves, often without justifiable provocation, the BJP may not even have the traditional back-benchers, who know where to rise the hackles than how.

Against this, the combined Opposition, the Congress especially may have stalwarts who are past masters at legislative strategies.

To counter them, the BJP may have to learn the tricks on the job.

Even their allies do not have the kind of leaders that were there once upon a time.

It is true of the non-Congress INDIA allies, possibly barring the DMK, Shiv Sena and Pawar NCP.

This brings a larger burden on the Congress Leader of the Opposition, who has to be a strategist familiar with the rule-book.

Rahul may take time to be there, but then unlike his mother's time as prime minister in 2004, he may not have competition from the other side of the aisle, to challenge him and try to fix him on questions and procedures.

To begin with, the BJP-NDA, in power, will have to find a Speaker, who can handle the situation unlike in the two previous Lok Sabhas where he needed only to pass an order, with the Opposition neither having the numbers, nor the enthusiasm, to contest beyond a point.

IMAGE: Rahul Gandhi addresses a media interaction in New Delhi, June 4, 2024. Photograph: Priyanshu Singh/Reuters

All of it boils down to only one thing. Will the NDA hold as it won the election? If the INDIA bloc remains to face assembly polls in individual states together.

Between now and the next Lok Sabha polls five years hence, assembly polls are due in a host of states, including UP, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, etc, etc.... And will both combines now be looking for coordinators that are not from the major partner but are acceptable to it and also to all allies -- someone who commands the respect not only of the rest but also of the mainstay?

After all, on every issue that they would have to collaborate, both within Parliament and outside, there are issues and issues, where many of them hardly have any clear perception just now, starting with Modi's business policy and friends, defence procurement in ways that it does not hurt national interests, economy, and, of course, China -- rather, 'Chinese occupation of Indian territory' that the Opposition wants the nation to believe but has failed to do so thus far.

That is over and above Mo-Sha's Hindutva agenda, starting with CAA, if not Ayodhya and 370, which seem to be done and dusted.

If nothing else, the TDP and JD-U and even JD-S partners in the BJP-NDA will have a lot to answer inside Parliament, day after day, session after session -- hence enough to ponder over, beginning here and now.

IMAGE: Modi with National People's Party leader Conrad Sangma (partially seen), Chandrababu Naidu, BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, J P Nadda and Amit Shah in Varanasi, May 14, 2024.

Where did the pollsters go wrong in the midst of all this?

The general belief is that politicians take their cue from pollsters to hone their strategies.

Here however once Modi launched his psychological offensive against his followers and opponents alike with his king-size 400-plus tally even before the hen had laid the eggs, leave alone hatch, the pollsters were telling you the same thing.

Worse was the exit poll, working back from the last phase, at the end of which alone TV channels and other media houses were allowed to publicise their so-called findings.

Other than laughing at it all, every unbiased observer of the TV scene as it unfolded that evening, was left wondering if all of them had sat at a round table, exchanged and manipulated the figures, as if to make each of them look independent and genuine.

It looked as if they were all working not only on a common data base, if any, but were also working against someone else's common deadline.

With the result, some pollster claimed that Rajasthan had 33 constituencies when it was only 25.

Someone else gave the Congress ally of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu 13 seats when it had contested only in nine, and so on....

Of course, this was not the first time that the pollsters have all got it wrong.

They all had done it before, in 2004, too when they failed to assess the pull of Sonia Gandhi's 'Aam Aadmi' call against the ruling BJP's 'India Shining!' campaign.

But no one suspected their integrity and hence data at the time.

This time, most voters, and even BJP-NDA strategists and cadres with their feet to the ground, suspected it all.

Or, that is what Modi 2.0 especially had done to the credibility of one more institution in a democracy, namely, the media -- after seemingly compromising those of a host of others, starting with the Election Commission, civil services and maybe the armed forces, too.

It could well mean end of business for the nation's psephologists and pollster mfirms, at least until another generation of voters crop up in the decades to come.

That means more in the queue of the unemployed in Modi 3.0, did you say?

Who did the 'samudra manthan' and who played Meru the mountain and Vasuki the snake, for our stock markets so vigorously, up and down, in just two days, first with the exit polls and the within the first hour of the vote count?

Who had all those stocks, who sold and who bought them? And why?

N Sathiya Moorthy, veteran journalist and author, is a Chennai-based policy analyst and political commentator.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: