by Elsa Lycias Joel 3 December 2019
India is a happening place. Anything can happen anytime and everything about political theatre is so dramatic and entertaining. The Maharashtra spectacle reminded me of the monkey and the crocodile story. The Shiv Sena scampering up its way to safety was indeed a sight to behold. Nobody dare mess with the Maratha Strongman aka Sharad Pawar. Didn’t BJP know dishonesty will breed dishonesty and nothing else? “Even an elephant can slip” and just so BJP reprieved Ajit Pawar of all cases against him. This can actually give Sonia’s daamaad a clue to purge himself of cases against him.
As statements of political intent go, this one is arresting. Asked about bitter/best split with his former ally BJP- Udhav Thackeray reportedly said: We would not align with those who speak lies. Pro-BJP will see breath-taking cynicism in the effort to etch a self-serving line between government and governance. The more rational may read it as an articulation drawing upon a deep strategy that may be unfathomable so far but sure to reveal itself later than never. But really, Udhav is deserving of our appreciation and Sharad Pawar our respect. The NCP after sensing an opportunity in the political furore that built up after BJP’s betrayal calibrated its enthusiasms. BJP’s discomfiture cannot but bring joy and succour to Congress and Shiv Sena leaders but there is no surety of dislodging BJP from Jharkhand’s throne too until the opposition combines of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has a plan- even the elusive organisational muscle and political bounce they need to revive themselves in a state that was once central to the one-party dominance system. So, for the moment in Jharkhand, the BJP dare not inhale.
Given the nature of the contradictory pulls and pressures that exist with seat sharing among allies, ever present trend of migratory birds finding new homes, piggybacking will no longer help BJP romp to victory.
However, this rotational chief minister-ship agreement had always turned out to be a defiant Gordian knot luring parties to walk in and out of alliances. When unthinkable pre or post-poll alliances cobble up to make winners out of losers, beneficiaries become so power hungry that they forget the good things they are expected to do with that power. Even while on this rotational CMship, power being BJP’s driver, they never stayed vigilant to watch out for the signs that they were taking it too far. In a democratic environment, particularly in a coalition government, this paradigm called rotational posts has never been a possibility since 1997 when BJP joined hands with BSP on a power-sharing agreement in UP. Just as in Maharashtra, power changed hands then too. Mayawati withdrew her support to BJP alleging the party of anti-Dalit attitude. In 2007, Kumaraswamy did it too.
When absolute power corrupts absolutely, will anyone want to settle for a 50-50 formula? At a broader level, the split and its aftermath will have a profound influence on the nature of relations relation between BJP and its other allies by creating unmanageable centrifugal tendencies.
There is definitely an element of suspense and tamasha in securing numbers and it guarantees media coverage. Legislators being shifted to resorts for fear of being poached make life as happening as possible for everyone involved in the business. Tamil Nadu is yet to get over the politics-is-fun story which was enacted by former AIADMK MLA Saravanan who disguised himself, scaled the wall of a luxury resort, jumped and escaped to join the Paneerselvam camp. Forget Mr. Saravanan, who in TN imagined Mr.Paneerselvam would shake hands with Mr. Edapaadi to become the deputy CM? If elected representatives are people with integrity and honesty, what’s the necessity for them to be holed up in resorts! After all, they aren’t animals to be poached. Every state has its share of excitement and later than never some global film trends analyst will recognize India as the best destination for the making of internationally critical political thriller movies. For politicians, life is also about dreams and something must come between them and their anxiety to occupy chambers in the secretariat and that something could be a few happy days on the set of some movie or a thrilling vacation in a resort.
Master survivors in their own right, politicians play the game of thrones in a dark, grim and difficult to follow manner. With governors as co-conspirators alongside the ruling party, they have proved to be a disgrace by demonstrating nil concern for democratic principles whatsoever. India doesn’t want to know why former CJI was made the Kerala Governor or why RSS pracharaks become governors or why governors are more political and not constitutional because Indians have witnessed enough and more since 1975. But Indians must be assured that democracy cannot be put to ransom in drawing rooms of Raj Bhavans by appointees who accept gubernatorial sinecure for being good agents of the ruling party.
Yes, the BJP’s unbearable twists and turns are born of dilemmas. A more demanding public debate needs to put the party on notice: its incoherence and lies is showing.
One thing is clear. Successful or purposeful, Pawar and Udhav are straws in the wind: they represent the stirrings all around for a new politics.
Ajit Pawar giving the Power duo a bitter taste of betrayal, Sharad Pawar will has had the last loud laugh.