All for one and one for all against BJP, may well be the motto of Sonia Gandhi, Pawar and Deve Gowda; will they succeed?
The senior citizen and politically experienced troika of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Rao Pawar and Janata Dal-Secular supremo HD Deve Gowda, it seems, will be the three political musketeers who will bring to fruition the putative anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 General Election. That, at least, is the proposal from Pawar who told has said the three of them, none with Prime Ministerial ambitions, could be the good-faith ambassadors of Opposition unity, travelling across the country to “give confidence to the people” and help shape the contours of a grand anti-BJP/NDA alliance. From the Opposition’s point of view, it must be said, that’s not a bad idea at all despite the sneaking suspicion some have that the self-described ‘humble farmer’ from Karnataka may not be all that averse to have his name pushed forward as a consensus candidate for the top spot, 22 years after he was similarly pitchforked to Prime Ministership, in the unlikely event of a BJP defeat at the husting next year. Leaving that admittedly remote possibility aside, however, Pawar — nothing if not a shrewd and vastly experienced politician — may have struck on an idea which will be welcomed by many Opposition parties fighting a battle for their survival.
Certainly, the idea of these three respected leaders purportedly with no personal ambition doing the behind-the-scenes work in terms of seat-allocation, alliances to be stitched up in various States and papering over egos of individual leaders may work far better than, say, a Rahul Gandhi speaking to a Mamata Banerjee speaking to a Sitaram Yechury speaking to an Arvind Kejriwal speaking to an Akhilesh Yadav speaking to a MK Stalin speaking to a Praful Patel and so forth. It would also leave the active leaders and heir — apparent of various Opposition parties to focus their time and energies primarily on ensuring their own parties’ performances ie Lok Sabha seats are maximised to be in a position, post-poll, to negotiate the best deal for themselves. There is also something to be said for the steadying hand of seniors when a political-electoral experiment of the kind not seen since the Saamyukta Vidhayak Dal effort in 1967, the JP midwifed anti-Indira Gandhi Janata Party of the 1970s and the HKS Surjeet aided United Front experiment of the 1990s is being attempted.
The BJP would do well to take serious note of this development, not just because for its potential to help aggregate much of the 68 per cent of so of the popular vote that is did not get in 2014 but also because these three leaders along with their key advisors are pretty wily when it comes to ensuring the vote-to-seat conversion ratio in India’s first-past-the-post electoral system too. But most of all, the BJP/NDA needs to be wary of what Samuel P Huntington called the ‘demonstration effect’ of such a move. Three senior leaders, including a former Prime Minister, one who turned down Prime Ministership and a third who many reckon could have been Prime Minister, getting together on a national scale and going to the people to ask them not for votes for themselves but for a broad Opposition alliance with a common minimum programme for governance a la NDA 1, will have an impact. It will be interesting to see if Pawar’s suggestion is acted upon and, if so, how the BJP/NDA responds
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer