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HVK Archives: Will BJP Government be out of the woods?

Will BJP Government be out of the woods? - The Free Press Journal

M. V. Kamath ()
July 23, 1998

Title: Will BJP Government be out of the woods?
Author: M. V. Kamath
Publication: The Free Press Journal
Date: July 23, 1998

Poor Congress! Poor United Front! In fact, poor everybody in
opposition! They just do not seem to know what to do. The two
Yadavs have 'united' and Mulayam Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav
have decided to bury their bloodied hatchets to form a new party.
Ms Mayavati is spending her time trying to explain that she has
no difference with her leader Kanshi Ram. Chandrashekar, head of
his one-man party has been urging for everyone to hear that if
only all 'secular' parties would unite, the BJP coalition
government could be toppled in one week flat. Not in six days or
ten, but in one week. That is being very precise. The CPM is at
loggerheads with itself. Jyoti Basu wants his party to give issue-
based support to a Congress-led government but his party men do
not share his wisdom. There are differences among parties in the
matter of reservation of seats to women in Parliament and the
various legislatures. Meanwhile, that wondrous clown, Subramaniam
Swamy, has been urging Jayalalitha to support the Congress even
if it is unlikely that the good man will ever get anything by way
of a seat in a Congress-led government, let alone a Finance
ministership. So we have a situation where the BJP coalition can
breathe a little more freely. Jayalalitha has been shown her
place - at last for the time being.

The Samata Party is not asking for presidential rule in Bihar.
Mamata Bannerjee is surprisingly quiescent after doing badly in
the west Bengal panchayat elections. And Sonia Gandhi is in no
mood to destabilise the BJP coalition government though in order
to keep everybody guessing she has said that should the BJP
government fall on its own, the Congress will not hesitate to
pick up the threads. That is a joke. Atal Behari Vajpayee says
confidently that his government will last the full five-year term
and there is no reason to doubt him. It is not because his
government is out of the woods. Jayalalitha's talent for creating
trouble is infinite but by now she should know that nobody would
like to have her on her terms and Sonia Gandhi may be a novice in
politics but even she should know that running a government with
the help of the Subramaniam Swamys, Chandrashekars, Jayalalithas,
Mulayam Singh Yadavs and Laloo Prasads, not to speak of Jyoti
Basus would be a nightmare. It cannot be that she loves the BJP
less; what is evident is that she is frightened of her professed
supporters more. With the "secular" gang as her friends, she
wouldn't require enemies.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties have used up all their
ammunition and are at a loss to know how to fight the BJP. First
the Opposition sought to damn the BJP as 'communal fascist and
uniculturistic'. The 'secular' card was waved in the country's
face on every occasion. That didn't help. Then word was spread -
a media hostile to the BJP was ever ready to swallow any bit
thrown at it - that the BJP had a hidden agenda', something
deadly and sinister that the nation should beware of. Dig as it
did, the Opposition could come up with nothing meaningful; so,
after some time, charges of a 'hidden agenda' were quietly given
up. Then came the nuclear tests. The Opposition came alive. "Why
now? raged Indrajit Gupta. He could have asked the same of the
Chinese when they went on a nuclear test spree almost two decades
ago. Then Gupta was tongue-tied. The Opposition's behaviour was
nothing short of traitorous. In, stead of supporting the
government it fell right into the CIA trap but the BJP stood firm
under assault. Now one of the strongest supporters of the tests
is former Prime Minister Inder Gujral. We live and learn. With
all these things going on came the election shock to the Congress
in Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar seemed to be at logger-heads with
Sonia Gandhi. How come Sonia Gandhi's nominee R. D. Pradhan lost
in the Rajya Sabha elections? Show-cause notices went to two
Congressmen in Maharashtra: Praful Patel and Sushil Chaturvedi.
"There should he some accountability," fumed Soniaji. The clash
between Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar is now in the open. If it
worsens, Pawar may ease himself out of the Sonia Congress and ask
the President to allot him and his followers separate seats. That
would be the end of the Congress. And, for that matter, the end
of the Opposition. Sharad Pawar had once made common cause with
the BJP's earlier avatar before, to form a government in
Maharashtra. He may yet join the BJP to form a stable government
in Delhi. Pawar may have many faults, but he is not a
Jayalalitha. In any situation he knows how far he can go and at
what point he should stop. And he is sure of his strength in
Maharashtra. It was not Sonia Gandhi who won for Congress those
twenty odd seats in Maharashtra. The credit goes to Pawar.

When the United States applied sanctions, there were many in
Congress who are weak-kneed who thought it was the ideal time to
beat the BJP with the nuclear stick. The attempt was made, but it
didn't last. Actually it couldn't. The BJP apart, India's economy
can withstand some blows. Consider this. In the week of July 5 to
12, for the first time in many weeks, the stock indices gained on
all the five days, the BSE Sensitive Index actually closing 10
per cent higher as compared to the previous week. Sentiment on
the bourses changed dramatically, giving a positive signal to
foreign institutional investors, domestic institutions and
operators. This is not to say that things will not change or
become worse. But the introduction of the amendment to the
Companies Act allowing buyback of shares by companies is likely
to buoy sentiments further. Sanctions may still wreak some havoc.
But the country is standing firm. Compare and contrast this with
events in Pakistan. The BJP has raised India's stature, no matter
what anti-India propaganda the United States may indulge in with
the earnest cooperation of its running dog, Great Britain. There
might have been some 'uncertainty' about the BJP coalition
government lasting, when Parliament met. But no longer. It is
highly ironic, as one commentators recently said, that those who
were the victims of the Congress (I)'s action less than a year
ago should now be keen on backing it. But politicians have shown
themselves again and again that they have no principles.

And to think that the likes of Chandrashekar, Mulayam Singh Yadav
and Laloo Prasad have any is to give them needless credit. But
they are spent forces. They are men without vision who know that
they have only the communal and caste card to play. To call them
'leaders' is to abuse a good word in the English language.

So where do we go from here? Or where can the BJP take us? To
greater and greater success, that's where. The government is in
good hands. A government that can come unscathed in the face of
bitter opposition from the western, racist powers, has much to
commend it. Vajpayee has stated clearly that India will not be
forced into signing the CTBT unconditionally. We may trust him to
stick to that. Even if Pakistan, now in grave trouble, collapses.
India may yet compromise; but then the United States will also
have to .do the same. It can't have all its own way. One suspects
that the bad days for the BJP are all butover and happier days
have yet to come. In the meantime it is getting much-needed
experience. And the longer it lasts, the more difficult it will
be for the Opposition to dislodge it.

The fact of the matter is that Opposition parties have nothing
constructive to offer. They have shown themselves singularly
without any vision. They thought that they could play on the
secular card to entice the Muslim vote. On the Women's
Reservation Bill they have been making some uncertain, noises,
but the Congress has stayed away from the Mulayam gang - and
quite wisely. And the BJP is holding firm to its convictions.
The BJP had no time to think and reflect during its first one
hundred days in office. It had been forced to be on the
defensive. It had too many problems in its plate. But once the
Finance Bill is passed and the budget-cum-monsoon session of the
Lok Sabha adjourns in the beginning of August, life for the BJP
should brighten up considerably with the BJP leaders freed to
conceive positive action and present it to the public which has
remained sceptical for so long. For the BJP, happy days should be
back, again.

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