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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Malai of power tempts BJP

By Swapan Dasgupta

If politics is the art of the possible (and the immediate) few will find fault with the BJP decision to resume its troubled cohabitation with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. Since the Assembly election had produced a horribly inconclusive verdict, the alternative to post-election alliances of expediency was President's Rule, the euphemism for Congress control of the state government. Even if the Congress and Babulal Marandi's JVM were to attempt a coalition government, it would have had to rope in either the JMM or the BJP. Since a BJP-Congress coalition isn't a feasible idea in today's context, the participation of the JMM was a must for any elected government in Ranchi. Immediately after the election, the JMM insisted that Shibu Soren must be Chief Minister. Now, with 'Guruji' more or less bowing out, his son Hemant Soren has preferred the Deputy Chief Minister's post to a long spell in the wilderness.

Yet, the issue is not as matter of fact as may appear. After Shibu Soren's inexplicable decision to vote with the UPA in the cut motion during the Budget session earlier this year, the BJP took the high moral ground and brought down the five-month-old government in Jharkhand. It tried to leverage Shibu's 'betrayal' to secure the Chief Ministership for itself. But that didn't wash with the JMM and the BJP was left with no alternative but to be an unwilling victim of its 'principled' posturing.

What has changed in the intervening months of President's Rule? First, there were definite indicators that that the Congress was waiting for the conclusion of the Bihar Assembly election to dissolve the Jharkhand Assembly and order fresh elections. Second, if the political buzz is indicative of public opinion, it seemed likely that another election in, say, early-2011 would lead to a decisive victory for the Congress-JVM in case the alliance persisted. Even if the Congress and Marandi fought separately, the wisdom in Ranchi was that the BJP would be main casualty and Marandi the main beneficiary.

The feverish behind-the-scenes activity which led to two of BJP's shadowy power brokers persuading Hemant Soren to settle for the Number 2 slot was less an offshoot of arithmetical pragmatism and more a consequence of fear of an electoral debacle. The numbers game in Jharkhand was always inimical to any lofty governance-centred approach, much as L.K. Advani would have wished. But the present arrangement was governed by extreme cynicism and a desire to make hay in the setting sun.

This may be unfair to Arjun Munda whose ability to negotiate very sticky wickets is legion. Once the BJP made up its mind to participate in a coalition with the JMM, there was no question that Munda was the man for the job. Apart from having the support of 16 of the 18 BJP legislators, Munda is well versed in the art of keeping all MLAs (including members of parties inimical to the BJP) happy and rewarded. No one else had the requisite skills to put off the day of reckoning for as long as possible.

The present arrangement may well endure for much longer than the jinxed tenure of Shibu Soren. But the circumstances in which the coalition was re-forged and the underlying rationale behind putting off another election poses enormous problems for the BJP.

After the previous Assembly, the BJP should have logically asked itself the question: what was responsible for the party's diminishing popularity in a state that it once regarded as its stronghold? Why, it should have asked, were the 2009 Lok Sabha results not replicated in an Assembly election held just a few months later? Unfortunately these questions were never asked as the party gloated in the consolation prize of ministerships under Shibu Soren. Even now these questions are not being asked.

In a sense these awkward questions never seem to be asked. The BJP never conducted a post-mortem of why it fared so pathetically in Uttar Pradesh in 2006. Its post-mortem of the 2009 national defeat was a spurious exercise and aimed at ensuring that real control of the party passed from politicians to pracharaks. There was no real inquiry as to how and why the party 'sold' itself to the Congress in Haryana.

There is little point taunting the BJP for not being a 'party with a difference'. The pillars of the pre-1998 distinctiveness were jettisoned once the party, like the Congress, accepted the realities of ongoing coalitions. But while the Congress-isation of the ideological space was inevitable (unless the party was reconciled to being in opposition permanently), what was not inevitable was the Congress-isation of the space reserved for political integrity.

To a very large extent, the crisis of the BJP today is a crisis of integrity. The BJP, particularly in the states, has become deeply contaminated by 'leaders' who are neither driven by ideology nor managerial efficiency. In Karnataka, the Chief Minister is being undermined by a profit-making cabal; in Uttarakhand, an inept Chief Minister is at the mercy of political venality; and in Punjab, BJP ministers have alienated their social constituencies by embracing the most disagreeable features of Congress culture. The BJP in Jharkhand mirrors this trend—a reason why there are no expectations from it.

There is little point in saying that the Congress is synonymous with corruption. As the Commonwealth Games fiasco has suggested, the BJP is not loath to ask for its share of the malai.

Sunday Pioneer, September 12, 2010

5 comments:

Manoj Agarwal said...

Ok, my two cents:

First, when the Jharkhand government fell, what was the rational behind keeping the house suspended rather then dissolving it right then? The idea was that probably Congress would be able to form the Government, right? Now since it's BJP which didn't play along the scripted lines and sprang a surprise, hence all this brouhaha.. It also did cost certain self styled rightist an opportunity to slam Congress for their constitutional dishonesty. But in reality everybody wants the status quo, the people who are for the system as well as those who are fighting for the change, I believe..

As you rightly pointed out, no government could be formed without the participation of Shibu Soren, hence what are the alternatives? Should BJP be simply a mute spectator of the whole show? And allow its further marginalization in the state?

BJP got wiped out in 2004 general election. If I remember correctly, Babulal Marandi was firmly with BJP then and they ended up winning 1 seat out of 14. On the other hand, a BJP minus Marandi won 8 out of 14 seats in 2009. Somebody has to be credited for that win and that is definitely not Marandi. If Babulal Marandi was such an epitome of virtues, as it is often claimed in your articles, why his fortune smiled only when he had a truck with Congress, the party who is single handedly responsible for death of morality in Indian politics).

And if Congress/Marandi has to win in Januray apparently, then why should BJP not try to deliver its vision to voters before going again in the court of people. There is apparently no quid pro quo arrangement that is visible on the surface. The JMM support is unconditional on-records.

Of course, to substantiate your claim of malai that gets BJP tempted, you had to bring in certain charges which are nothing to do with current episode in Jharkhand for instance what happened in Haryana etc.

If I remember correctly, BJP took a very reasonable position and had a very positive campaign (on the lines as you would like to see) during assembly elections. There was a Madhu Koda episode and Congress was definitely getting some muck for that. What was the net result? Why people preferred the corrupt Shibu/Congress as much as much better alternative that was available to them in the form of BJP? At least BJP was not tainted by association then.

On the other hand, if democracy in India is all about managing elections and someone in BJP was responsible for fritting away the advantages of 2009 by not properly managing it then what's wrong in trying the hands at governance. The ideological positions anyway don't matter and the problem lies somewhere else. If it is indeed about ideological positions, then it does not explain at all the fractured verdict in Jharkhand assembly elections or for that matter even the Congress party's success in 2009 general election, unless the people of India are collectively suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Or only advice BJP gets from this article that BJP should reduce itself to a right-wing moralist NGO, and allow itself to be pushed further to the sidelines.

Manoj Agarwal said...

Ok, my two cents:

First, when the Jharkhand government fell, what was the rational behind keeping the house suspended rather then dissolving it right then? The idea was that probably Congress would be able to form the Government, right? Now since it's BJP which didn't play along the scripted lines and sprang a surprise, hence all this brouhaha. Should BJP be simply a mute spectator of the whole show? And allow its further marginalization in the state?

BJP got wiped out in 2004 general election. If I remember correctly, Babulal Marandi was firmly with BJP then. On the other hand, a BJP minus Marandi won 8 out of 14 seats in 2009. Somebody has to be credited for that win and that is definitely not Marandi. If Babulal Marandi was such an epitome of virtues, why his fortune smiled only when he had a truck with Congress the party who is single handedly responsible for death of morality in Indian politics?

And if Congress/Marandi has to win in Januray apparently, then why should BJP not try to deliver its vision to voters before going again in the court of people. There is apparently no quid pro quo arrangement that is visible on the surface.

If I remember correctly, BJP took a very reasonable position and had a very positive campaign during assembly elections. There was a Madhu Koda episode and Congress was definitely getting some muck for that. What was the net result? Why people preferred the corrupt Shibu/Congress as much as much better alternative that was available to them in the form of BJP?

On the other hand, if democracy in India is all about managing elections and someone in BJP was responsible for fritting away the advantages of 2009 by not properly managing it then what's wrong in trying the hands at governance. The ideological positions anyway don't matter and the problem lies somewhere else. Otherwise it does not explain at all the fractured verdict in Jharkhand assembly elections or for that matter even the Congress party's success in 2009 general election, unless the people of India are collectively suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

Dinesh said...

Who are the "two of BJP's shadowy power brokers" ?

Anonymous said...

dear sd
ganda hai per dhanda hai ye!politics and media!
money paid by taxpayers since 1947,were more than enough to make india a developed nation,by now,but thanks to unskilled ,corrupt gandhis,mms that indians are starving for food etc today!ig,sg,rg mms are real shameless species!sg,without having soutions for india`s problems,want to be in politics,by encouraging corruption,killing democratic institutions like;sc,cbi,election comission,cvc,cag,media,shamelesslyetc.why sg has to be in politics?diplomacy of mms has encouraged china,pak,etc,and do not know where it will end!U.S well knowing that pak.,harrasing india/indians,still invariably supporting pak.,india looking fool in global community!mms as head of govt has no right to demand/collect taxes ,from taxpayers,as deliberately encouraging corruption(raja,cwg,abroad money,most I.t commissioners,etc crorepatis).tax payers must declare non co operation!it is funny that a burocrat/judge(a public servant),sitting on crores,ask to public(masters) Have you concealed income,do you plead guilty? perhaps Amirknan has shown peeply live to mms not because it is a great movie,but wanted to show mms&co.,the india they have created,even after taxpayers paid enough money since 1947?still these shameless sg &co,want to be in politics!

Anonymous said...

@anonymous at September 15, 2010 9:41 PM - you have expressed very well in your rant the anguish we the law-abiding, tax paying citizens of this country feel! Perhaps the solution to this is
a> for honest, educated and patriotic persons to take part in politics and not leave it to the crooks and idiots who will sell their mothers to stay in power
and b> for citizens to be vigilant and active in whistle blowing activities and bringing anti-national activities to light.

For example in Rajasthan around 30 villages have been infiltrated by P***stanis and that area is actually known as `Little P***stan` these people being in large numbers there; this may lead to Assam type problem in a few years. Apparently this has been encouraged by the C**ngi government in that state for vote bank purpose(Sapan da are you listening...?).

Raise issues such as these in public fora so that it sticks around in people's minds. Also, write about such matters in internet fora so that people who matter (such as Sapan da) are poked! It is no effort to write stuff on the internet as `anonymous` :-) and does not cost a paisa!

On international fora, blast our enemies with well documented arguments, providing links to back up you argument. Such as the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.