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A dream that will not be a reality - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
October 8, 1998

Title: A dream that will not be a reality
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: October 8, 1998

Introduction: The tragedy of BJP's opponents is that they want
to bank on the formula of 1996 even at the end of 1998.

The ongoing exercise of the Left Front to polarise all the anti-
BJP forces is bound to be futile as the perceptions. of the
parties and the people have undergone a radical change after
1996 experiment of United Front. UF came to power basically
because of the success of the 'secular mantra' that BJP, being
communal, cannot be allowed to rule. Ignoring glaring
contradictions, all non-BJP formations came together to oppose
the then Vajpayee government. In the vote of confidence, the BJP-
led government had to opt for want of additional support. The UF
came to power, and with that came the period of the success of
'communal canard'.

In fact, that was the second phase of the historic erosion of
the myth of secularism. In the first phase, BJP's increasing
vote base from 8 per cent of total votes polled in 1984 to above
25 per cent on its own in 1998 was clearly indicative of gradual
decline of the effect of communal-centric propaganda of its
opponents. The trend was crystal-clear. The tragedy of the
opponents of BJP is that they to bank on the formula of 1996
even at the end of 1998, and anyone knows that a political war
cannot be won by the strategy adopted in the previous political

Ironically, the Left Front is presently discussing the role of
Congress in the 'Third Front'. The Congress is a front-ranking
party even today. It has been the principal party of the country
for over a century. Only recently, the space of the premier
party has been acquired by the BJP. But the Congress is still a
political force not comparable to any non-BJP party. The Left
Front may be a stable formation, but it is too limited a front,
confined to states which account for only 64 Lok Sabha seats out
of 542. It can hardly be among the main players of Indian
politics. And yet the Left Front played the most dominant role
during both the UF regimes, quite disproportionate to its
numerical or ideological strength.

Its ideology was torn to pieces with the collapse of communism.
It cannot seek ideological parentage in the Chinese experiment
which is nothing but party dictatorship with the worst kind of
capitalism, i e market-driven globalisation. It is worse than
American-dominated capitalism which was obtained during Cold War
period. It is leading to economic colonisation of a different
variety, Look at the havoc suffered by the so-called East Asian
Tigers like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea -
Japan too is heading towards a major economic slowdown. Blame is
placed on a mixture evil speculators and foolish bankers of rich
nations, corrupt governments and regulated banks of poor
countries. Instead of accepting the failure of globalisation as
a strategy of development driven by IMF, clearly the game is to
apply minor correctives.

Let us take the example of India's steel industry. The UF
finance minister P Chidambaram reduced the customs duty on steel
as per the prescription of IMF years before schedule. In the
wake of the East Asian crisis, cheap steel import is crippling
the Indian steel industry.

Had the CPM or the Left Front any concern for the economic
direction, they should have learnt the lesson of partners like
Chidambaram's party. But the CPM is going to accept
Chidambaram's guru, Dr Manmohan Singh's party led by the
international citizen Sonia Gandhi. The Left Front told the
Congress to emend and open their economic card during Panchmarhi
conclave. They did not depart from Manmohamics. But it did not
matter for the Left Front. They are proceeding to form an anti-
BJP broad front, including the Congress. Why is the CPM restless
to form the Third Front?

By now, non-BJP leaders have come to the conclusion that the
Vajpayee-led government is rapidly stabilising despite the best
efforts of its opponents and even some of its own allies. The
theory that Vajpayee government would crumble under its own
weight is proving to be nothing but wishful thinking. These the
CPM leaders cannot stomach. Two of the Left Front partners, RSP
and Forward Bloc, have made their stand clear that they would
not be party to the proposal to bring back Congress to power.
Also, a large section of the CPM leadership is opposed to the
idea. But the party general erred H S Surjeet and. Jyoti Basu,
have demonstrated crippled political maturity during the last
eight months.

Many pen-pushers have attributed the continuance of Vajpayee
government to the reluctance of Sonia Gandhi to head the
government. I do not know how reluctant she is. She was
reluctant to lead and head the party for quite some time. Even
her husband, late Rajiv Gandhi, was said to be reluctant. One
fine morning he was the general secretary of the party. Even
Nehru used to threaten to resign. We have seen the reluctance
of the family which ruled for full forty years. I do not buy
this illusion. Also, there is the theory going around that Sonia
would make a bid for power if Congress succeeds in capturing
power in the assembly elections in MP, Rajasthan, Delhi and
Mizoram. BJP is now ruling in Rajasthan and Delhi and Congress
in MP. Even if ruling parties fail to return to power, it would
prove that people have punished them. It wouldn't prove the
charismatic impact of Sonia. CPM is waiting for something
positive to happen so that the Third Front may share power under
Sonia's leadership.

Not that any meaningful Third Front is going to emerge. There
are several reasons for it. The arithmetic of present Lok Sabha
is such that the Congress-led and Left-supported coalition
cannot be a viable proposition. Had there been any such
possibility, the Vajpayee-led government would not have come
into being. it should be recalled that all possible efforts were
made to stop Vajpayee. Secondly, the Congress-led government
cannot come to terms with the ideological demand of the Left and
political demand of the unstable Parties - Thirdly, being
principal adversaries in a couple of states, clash of political
interests cannot but be the major bone of contention. The hope
that some of the allies of the BJP can be won over is without
foundation. Fourthly, sometimes internal problems of some of the
BJP allies may create illusions of fragility. For example, it is
a known fact that SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and chief
minister Prakash Singh Badal led warring groups against each
other. Sometimes, Badal may have to raise voice against the BJP-
led government on certain issues to maintain the internal
equilibrium of the, party. But it does not affect the foundation
of the alliance as it is firmly rooted in the complimentarity of
the state politics of Punjab. Fifthly, the BJP leadership has
mastered the art of coalition politics. It has shown maturity in
handling the AIADMK crisis. Further, a new set of crisis
managers has emerged from among the allies. The most important
factor in stabilising the Vajpayee government is the spirit of

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