Blame it on Modi’s ‘corporate sarkar’, Sangh Parivar’s aggressive Hindutva campaign or Kejriwal’s emphatic victory in Delhi, a political renaissance seems inevitable in the country. Rising from the ignominy of General Elections 2014, the opponents are finally getting back on their feet to give a tough fight yet again.
If Rahul Gandhi’s return after a 56-day-long sabbatical and formation of Janata Parivar(JP) were not enough, then Sitaram Yechury taking over as general secretary of the CPM added more spice to the proceedings. Lohia’s rhetoric of ‘Tata-Birla ki sarkar’ has found a resonance in Rahul’s ‘corporate sarkar and suit-boot ki sarkar’.
With the battlelines clearly drawn, the forthcoming Assembly elections of Bihar and West Bengal are evidently going to be a rich-versus-poor contest. The Congress, the Left Front and the Samajwadi Party(SP) will certainly think of a coalition to check the BJP juggernaut. It is the same formula on which the Deve Gowda-Gujral government was formed nearly two decades ago. Though the government did not last long, there is no harm in trying a tried-and-tested method to check BJP’s advances. Besides, is there an option?
Rahul’s new avatar seems to have infused a new life into the beleaguered Grand Old Party of India. But how long will the reluctant prince stay in politics this time? What if he has a change of heart and retreats to his ‘melancholic’ zone? Though it is plausible to have such doubts, the sabbatical has undeniably worked wonders for Rahul. It looks more than just a journey towards self-discovery. Stumbling here and there, his language has improved by leaps and bounds. There is wit and humour which were missing earlier. Experts might have a different opinion but focus and determination underlined his comeback speech.
Although it is a positive start, ‘Mission Survival’ will not be a piece of cake for Rahul. He faces two impeccable orators, Modi and Kejriwal, who have mastered the art of wooing the masses. Voters being the ultimate judge, Rahul still has a long way to go and more so with the current state of the Congress. Thus far, he has done nothing to prove that he can build the party from scratch after the debacle. The party needs an immediate plan for its resurrection. They have to boost the morale of the workers, decide upon a plan of action, identify programmes and work out a strategy. Most importantly, the party has to regain the lost credibility of ‘Brand Congress’ and ‘Brand Rahul’. On top of these, Congress also has to deal with the scepticism within the party over Rahul’s leadership abilities. It’s time Rahul proves himself, something he has failed to do in the past.
Next is the CPM. The party relies heavily on Sitaram Yechury’s ‘coalition skills’. With Prakash Karat at the helm, the party suffered a lot and was reduced to a political nonentity. Interestingly, a party like the AAP with no ideology to claim as its own, managed to sweep the polls in Delhi. Kejriwal did away with all barriers. All voted for him alike – the rich, the middle class and the poor. To counter the Modi wave, he had created his own cult. Without even using the word ‘secular’, he could woo the Muslim voters. It was politics of a new kind, one which does not base itself on any ideology.
Yechury questions the AAP mainly on these two points. One, that the AAP does not have an ideology, especially economic. Two, that the party’s stand regarding ‘secularism’ is unclear. However, Yechury is aware that in today’s politics temporary alliances are better than permanent ones. Keep them as long as one needs them. In such a scenario, the AAP can prove to be a significant player for the CPM, alongside the Congress and the SP.
As general secretary of the CPM, Yechury will look forward to reviving the lost relevance of the party. In a statement, he has made it clear that to counter the Hindutva agenda, all secular forces must come together. Whether or not there is a coalition, they must support each other.
Yechury’s priority is to stop the BJP’s growing influence in West Bengal as the state prepares for Assembly polls next year. The entire Bengal lobby supported Yechury for the post of top boss as they had high hopes in him. Even local leaders on both sides are counting on a possible Congress-Left alliance. Forget the TMC, the CPM is struggling even against the BJP in the state at present. Congress, on the other hand, is yet to open an account there. An alliance is the only way to save both the parties.
Assembly elections in Bihar are also scheduled this year. For the Nitish-Lalu-Mulayam tie-up, there is no better ally than the Congress and the Left Front, especially with Jitan Ram Manjhi dilly-dallying between the BJP and the JD(U). For the Congress and the Left Front, an alliance with the recently merged JP is both indispensable and inevitable.
Well, it is not all about political equations and calculations. All the parties are aware that without launching an integrated and aggressive attack against the BJP, the opposition has no chance of reviving its viability. Congress has no alternative apart from Rahul and he is yet to deliver. Even the socialist parties must have felt that if they continue to play at the regional level, they can never take on the might of Modi and Amit Shah. Another disadvantage is their political relevance, which is limited solely to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Similarly, the Left cannot go a long distance on its own. In this scenario, an alliance seems to be the only option for these three players to make a strong impact. In view of the recent upheavals within the aap, it would be interesting to see whether it joins the league or not.