I can understand the SP making a noise about mid-term polls. After all, the party has a clear chance of increasing its MP count in Parliament. But the TMC? Honestly, if General Elections were held today, the TMC would see a reduction in its MP count from the 19 it has at present. In the best of scenarios, it may stay flat. Under no circumstance can I imagine it increasing its count. If TMC’s threat wasn’t baloney, what else was it?
They say anti-incumbacny kicks in within a year. The first six months are a honeymoon period, but people start getting restless soon thereafter. Mamata has nothing but incompetence, arrogance and ignorance about her responsibilities to show. Her handling of the several crises that have hit her state has been insensitive and careless. Women voters must feel particularly upset with the way she saw a CPM-plot in the rape cases even before she could analyze the situation. Even before she took steps to catch the culprit(s). Her handling of the infant deaths problem – again preferring to blame the state of affairs on the Left (which undoubtedly was true at the beginning of her term) – has left many of those who voted for her rattled. After all, how many months does it take for a Government to start making corrections in systems that have supposedly gone into disarray and disrepair?
How long can Mamata keep giving excuses? Much of her opposition to the Central government also appears to be whimsical, rather than principled. After all, why would she oppose the Lok Ayuktas clause in the Central Lokpal Act? She had accused the Left of being highly corrupt – why then should she oppose the mandatory imposition of a central Lok Ayukta statute on her state? If she was so concerned about the state’s autonomy, why has she not come out with her own “strong” Lok Ayukta proposal? It now appears that she has no capability of introducing her own law. Again, on NCTC, her arguments against supporting it looked arbitrary. If she was so much for state autonomy, why did she propose the changes to the RPF Act – only to hastily withdraw it on realizing how her double standards would get caught?
Brings us to the question – who really wants the mid-term elections apart from the SP. Frankly, I cannot think of anyone at all. Least of all, the BJP. The BJP has got a pretty strong drubbing in the recent state polls. They have lost 8 MLAs and more importantly, their tally in UP has shrunk. Yes, if they had done well in UP – as the initial poll trends indicated – they would have gained from mid-term polls. But all that the BJP has to show for success is Goa; the smallest of all the states – even smaller than Manipur and Uttarakhand – that went to the polls. The BJP lost in UP, Punjab and Uttarakhand; and it isn’t even present in Manipur. On what grounds would it press for mid-terms? Sushma Swaraj was perhaps being unduly adventurous – but good sense soon prevailed on the party when it clarified that it wasn’t in favor of mid-terms. The BJP also has several other worries – its unit in Karnataka is in shambles; the temporary acquittal of Yeddy notwithstanding. Yeddy freed of charges can only mean trouble for the BJP, as his involvement in many other issues comes out. Further, the fast developing story in MP about mining, the deteriorating law and order situation (first the murder of the RTI activist Shehla Masood, and now the IPS officer) and the several cases of corruption coming out of the state are all pointers that the BJP could be in trouble in the state.
The state elections have again proved that though the Congress may lose (and it may indeed), the BJP is unlikely to benefit. The BJP must consider itself lucky that the Congress didn’t emerge stronger. And likewise, the Congress that the BJP didn’t either. Both parties are missing the bigger point – that they are both being shrunk in size by the regional parties. That real benefit of any mid-term may actually goto the regional parties; who may then feel emboldened to form a viable third front.
So no one is going to be happy if a mid-term election is held. Least of all, the Congress and the BJP. But in the hectic and heightened political scenario in Delhi at the moment, when all knives are out for the Congress, and when the BJP is in a delusional state of having acquired more strength, anything goes. Even a light weight minister like Dinesh Trivedi’s un-thought-through statement makes the headlines. The media is happy to latch on to anything sensational. The Presidential polls provide some juice too – but the fact again is that nothing has changed after the polls. The UPA hasn’t become any weaker; the NDA hasn’t become any stronger. But somehow, an attempt has been made to sensationalize the Presidential poll. It was always going to be difficult for the UPA to get its candidate through unchallenged; it will continue remaining difficult.
The smart thing for the BJP to do – and I think it realizes it – is to let the UPA stumble along till the end of its term. The anit-incumbancy will be stronger in 2014 than it is now. Maybe the Congress will continue to goof up; maybe it won’t learn any lessons. One thing is clear – if it doesn’t clean up its act, it is unlikely to return to power. Even if corrects itself, it is going to be an uphill task to hold on to its 207 odd strength in the Lok Sabha. It’s bound to suffer in states like AP and Maharashtra. Either way, the BJP’s best shot at ruling the Center would come in 2014, not now. Maybe a thumping victory in Gujarat may give the party renewed enthusiasm and vigor.
The real truth is that there will be no mid-term polls. No one wants them. The talk is all bravado; very little thinking. The next two years and a bit are an opportunity for the BJP to press home the infirmities of the Congress. They are also an opportunity for the Congress to recover at least some space for itself. What happens remains to be seen; but in politics, it’s never too late till the last day!