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HVK Archives: Ideology and alliance

Ideology and alliance - Organiser

Shyam Khosla ()
January 11, 1998

Title: Ideology and alliance
Author: Shyam Khosla
Publication: Organiser
Date: January 11, 1998

Bharatiya Janata Party is a national party seeking a decisive
mandate from the electorate in the '98 elections on its distinct
ideology, policies and programmes no less than on the quality of
its leadership and performance. While it is confident of securing
a majority in the 12th Lok Sabha, it is aware of the ground
reality that there are States where it is not strong enough to
defeat its main rival-the Congress-without the support of
regional parties. Hence, its readiness to enter into scat-
sharing arrangements with friendly parties. In the last Lok Sabha
polls, the Shiv Sena, the Samata Party and the Haryana Vikas
Party had the seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP in
Maharashtra, Bihar and Haryana respectively. This did not prevent
the BJP from refusing a similar arrangement with the Samata Party
in Haryana where it chose the HVP as its partner to the great
dismay of Devi Lal's Lok Dal, which had joined the Samata Party
on the eve of the polls to force an alliance with the BJP in
Haryana.

The purpose of recalling this fact is to underline the obvious,
namely, the BJP is not seeking to launch a front on the lines of
the United Front, which is an amalgam of numerous small and tiny
parties. It may have seat-sharing arrangements with a dozen
regional parties in the coming polls but will contest the
election on its own manifesto and will let its allies do the
same.

The media hype on the difference between the BJP and the Samata
Party' is unwarranted though not unexpected. George Fernandes is
absolutely right that had there been no ideological differences
between the two parties, these could have merged. The BJP has
repeatedly stated that it will not compromise on those issues
that give it a distinct identity. These include Ayodhya, common
civil code and Article 370. The parties joining hands with it in
the coming polls know this but that does not necessarily mean
that these parties are in agreement with the BJP on these issues.

Political parties enter into electoral alliances for mutual
benefit and to achieve what they perceive as the common good. How
else to explain the conduct of the then Jana Sangh and the
Communist parties in 1967 when they became partners in the non-
Congress Governments in several States? Again in 1989, both the
Left Front and the BP supported the V.P. Singhs minority
Government from outside to keep the Congress out.

George may have a different perception on Ayodhya but his candid
observation that his party had joined hands with the BJP "to
unmask the vested interests who sought to polarise the polity on
the issue of secularism", is an indication that the BJP's concept
of cultural nationalism is gaining acceptability even in non-BJP
circles.

No one can take exception to Samata Party's decision not to
support the BJP-AIADMK alliance in Tamil Nadu. The Samata Party
is free to choose its allies in States other than Bihar, where it
has a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP. Samata's demand that
it should be allocated seats outside Bihar is understandable. The
BJP has its own perception on the issue. Such differences are
bound to be there. Jumping to the conclusion that the Samata-BJP
relations are on the rock is too premature to deserve any
comment.

The Congress leadership, which has not been able to stop the tide
of desertions even after using the "Sonia card" is harping on the
problems the BJP is having with its regional allies on scat
sharing. It is natural for smaller parties to demand more seats
than they deserve. "After all, it is your party, which will get
the prime ministership. So, let us have a few more MPs", so the
argument runs.

The Samata Party wants a few seats more in Bihar and as mentioned
earlier some share in other States. This may or may not be
acceptable to the dominant party. It is for the leadership of the
parties concerned to evolve a criteria if they are keen to make a
success of the arrangement. Same is true of Akali Dal's demand
for a seat each in Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan. The Dal had the
magnanimity to have the BJP as a coalition partner in Punjab even
after securing an absolute majority of its own in the Assembly.
It now wants the BJP to be generous in allocating seats for the
Akali candidates in States outside Punjab.

The BJP is resisting the demand and for good reasons. Its State
units in Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan have pointed out that the
Akali Dal lacks "potential winners" in these States and conceding
its demand may lead to losing these seats to the Congress.

The BJP leadership will have to sort out similar problems in
Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is faced with a tougher
task in UP where breakaway groups of the Congress and the BSP are
making impossible demands. The problem in Tamil Nadu is not a
serious one. And the issue has been settled in Maharashtra,
Haryana and Punjab.

Most of the electoral partners of BJP are keen to have a joint
campaign in the coming election. Projection of Atal Behari
Vajpayee as the future Prime Minister will be one of the major
planks of the BJP-led alliance. The Samata Party had jointly
campaigned with the BJP in the 1996 polls. It is entirely for
George's party to decide whether it wants Vajpayee and Lal
Krishna Advani to campaign for its candidates in Bihar.

The BJP its allies are way ahead of other combinations-the
Congress and the United Front not to talk of the stillborn
"secular front -in launching their election campaigns and
finalising tie-ups with electoral partners. Those who pick holes
in this winning combine will do well to remember the plight of
the Congress. Its alliance partner, Laloo Yadavs RJD, is not
willing to concede more dm half a dozen of the 54 Lok Sabha seats
>from Bihar to the Congress. The BSP is dictating terms to the
Congress in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.


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