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Ascendant BJP has LF worried - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
January 15, 1998

Title: Ascendant BJP has LF worried
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: January 15, 1998

Even while having the outside support of Congress for the UF
government, the Left Front, specially the CPM, still treated the
Congress as a political untouchable. So much so that it did not
allow the apex coordination committee to be formed, as promised
to the President of India by Congress president Sitaram Kesri
just before the formation of the second UF government. Now, the
same CPM has been forced to rethink its strategic positioning
towards Congress, under the pro-BJP atmosphere in recent weeks.
The party general secretary has clearly said that if need be, the
UF would form the government with Congress support again. The
central committee of the party has decided in Calcutta that this
time the CPM would not hesitate to participate in the government.

Now, there seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that it is more
important to defeat the BJP than to spend time on the Congress
which is more or less down and out. The CPM mindset has
undergone a fulsome change. It clearly visualises sharing power
at Centre with the Congress, if the occasion rises. The
hardliners in the CPM are still against any compromise with the
Congress. A more realistic view is shaping up in the party and
all efforts are being made to prevent the division in anti-BJP
votes even if it means support to the Congress in areas where it
alone is in a position to defeat- the BJP. There may not be any
formal understanding with Congress. But Left parties would
tacitly work for its victory, preparing the ground for ultimate
power-sharing at the Centre.

The senior Left leaders privately acknowledge that there is a
radical change in the political situation, and hence the line of
keeping the same distance from the Congress and the BJP would no
more be politically correct, as Congress is a much weakened force
and New Delhi is within the reach of the BJP. The collapse of
the Congress has not gladdened the Left parties. In fact, it is a
bad news for the so-called "secular and centrist" forces, as much
of the political space vacated by Congress would be captured by
the BJP. It is this realisation which has changed the CPM to
take a hard-headed view of its Congress strategy for the
elections. The party concedes that it cannot expect to play the
role of arbiter at the Central level if it continues to remain
outside the government.

I don't think that CPM will find dearth of logic to justify its
participation in the government along with Congress. It may be
recalled that when CPM supported the presidential candidature of
V V Giri forwarded by Indira Gandhi in 1969, it had explained
that Congress(O) was a rightist and reactionary force as compared
to Indira Gandhi, who, according to CPM, was the representative
of the progressive capitalist class. Similarly, this time as
against BJP, Congress would be much more ideologically preferable
to share power with.

In fact, BJP has given worries to all its adversaries by
completing political alliances and seat adjustment in all the
major states. The expanse of the political alliances of the
friendless and untouchable BJP has attained an all-India extent.
This has boosted the morale of BJP, its allies, its supporters
and general electorates all over the country.

In Karnataka Lok Shakti headed by a leader like Ramkrishna Hegde
has shattered the dream of UF and Congress in the state. The
BJP's alliance with the formidable front headed by Jayalalitha.
in Tamil Nadu is bound to upset the arithmetic of UF. BJP's
alliances in Orissa and Andhra with Biju Janata Dal and TDP(L)
and others may further add to the worries of its opponents.

The build-up in favour of the BJP is not a creation of a month or
is just one event. The BJP has started its election campaign,
when Atal Behari Vajpayee accepted the offer given by the
President to form the government. On the 13th day of his
government, Vajpayee has given his first campaign speech. Right
>from that day, BJP was certain that UF experiment would not last

BJP president, L K Advani's longest ever Rath Yatra on the
occasion of the golden jubilee of our Independence too was
undertaken to mobilise the masses in favour of BJP. During his 60
days' Yatra, he addressed literally hundreds of big rallies and
not less than 500 roadsides meetings. In each of his speeches,
even If it was of five minutes' duration, he appealed to the
audience to make Atal Behari Vajpayee the Prime Minister of the
country so that a stable government can be provided. In
contrast, during those months Congress as well as the UF were
busy in fighting their internal battles. The point is that the
atmospheric build-up, which we see today in favour of the BJP and
its allies, was systematically created.

One can see any political straw in the wind and can judge which
way the wind is blowing. Congress leaders leaving the party and
joining the BJP during the last one fortnight was indicative
enough. Again, prominent scientists, scholars and ex-army
generals, by joining the party, confirmed the hope which the
party had generated. The massive response, which Vajpayee and
Advani got during the first and second phase of their campaign,
started on its own. Certainly, there is a wave-like situation in
favour of the BJP and its allies throughout the country. Just two
days back, the result of UP legislative council polls went much
beyond the expectations of the state leaders. BJP got 25 out of
38 seats. At most, the state president Raj Nath Singh was
expecting 19 seats out of 39, because the electoral college
comprising elected representatives of the local bodies were of
the period of Mulayam Singh's rule, wherein there Was massive
misuse of government machinery as well as money and muscle power.
It is in this background that the results of council polls have
surprised even the BJP leaders. But more importantly it is surely
a symptom of the wave situation.

Nobody expects adversaries of BJP to concede this. The CPM
general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet has written in the
party weekly Peoples Democracy in its issue dated January 11,
1998: "With each passing day the intensity of the BJP's media
hype goes on increasing. This, however, is intended at nothing
but concealing the fact that the masses are still not hi a mood
to oblige the party with the kind of support it desperately needs
in order to capture power at Delhi.

When BJP got 87 Lok Sabha seats in 1989, they attributed it to
the seat adjustment with Janata Dal under the leadership of V P
Singh. Just before 1991 election, they predicted that the BJP
tally would be reduced to half, for BJP was going alone. When the
final results demonstrated BJP's upward march, they were so
shocked that they forgot their earlier prediction. They came out
with new theory that BJP had then reached the plateau.

Given the capacity for miscalculation, Surjeet's description of
build-up in favour of BJP as edia hype is understandable.

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