Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Even in this UPA “crisis”, there is no role for BJP….

Two things were clear yesterday. One that the UPA was in a slight spot of trouble after the DMK walked out. Only a slight spot mind you. And in my mind, as I mentioned a yesterday, the UPA will sort out the stress shortly. The second thing is that the BJP is no where in the reckoning. SP, BSP, TMC, DMK, AIADMK, JD(U) – everyone has a voice, but there is nothing for the BJP. Strange, considering that the BJP fancies itself as the primary opposition party and the alternative to the Congress.

But first onto the Congress and the UPA. Multiple messages coming out yesterday point to the fact that the UPA is safe. Mayawati has assured the UPA of her support. That’s 21 safe votes for the UPA. Then there is the surprise overture from Mamata which is 19 more, though honestly, the Congress is best advised to leave her out. Then there is this new warmth in relations with Nitish Kumar and at the very minimum, the JD(U) can be expected to abstain or stay neutral. In fact, it is a little difficult to imagine it siding with the BJP, even though the party has said that it won’t support a country-specific resolution in Parliament. Then this rather interesting new development with the AIADMK and some letter that Jayalalithaa has reportedly sent to the PM. Wonder what that letter says, but it appears to have got the media abuzz! And finally the SP. After all the drama that Beni Prasad Verma did, it is more than likely that he will be forced to apologize and the SP will be back to supporting the UPA. So clearly, while the UPA may have become weaker (temporarily), it is more than safe.

Why temporarily? Because the media has a habit of exaggerating political developments. Remember the NCP scuffle with the Congress a few months back when, as per media reports, the party was expected to withdraw support and the UPA was expected to become “lame duck”? Apparently, Sharad Pawar had been badly miffed; and Praful Patel was all over TV expressing his deep feeling of hurt? Just like the DMK is doing right now? Well, what happened? The NCP is solidly with the Congress through this crisis; the “snub” that the Congress delivered to the NCP yet again a couple of days back by “ignoring” his worries on the Food Security Bill notwithstanding. Media – especially TV – has this need and hence the habit of exaggeration!

The DMK will return back to the UPA fold. It has no option. Karunanidhi has already said that he will not engender the UPA’s fall. How can he? Does he want to be routed in the state elections? Does he want to lose the slight leverage he enjoys in the 2G investigation because of his ability to pressurize the Congress? And more importantly, does he want his 18 MPs to count for just 18, or many times that number which his proximity to the Congress allows? Mamata’s offer today to support the UPA must also be an attempt to enhance the power of her 19. She may have 19, but her 19 are way weaker than DMK’s 18 – as long as the DMK remains a part of the ruling coalition. Who understands this better than TN parties? Forever, they have chosen to align with whoever rules Delhi!

Now coming to the BJP. The BJP is like a dog that never bites. Or as the PM recently said, its like the cloud that thunders but never brings rain. The only thing the BJP has been able to do as a result of this crisis – and in any case, that is all that the BJP is good at really – is crowd every TV studio and spit more and more vitriol on the Congress. Apparently, the Congress is crumbling. The government will fall on its own. Its in the ICU. It’s a lame duck government. Blah blah blah. But when questioned what it planned to do to capitalize on the situation, it turned shy. When asked why it wasn’t moving the No Confidence Motion, there was some weird answer that it wasn’t necessary. In fact, a suggestion that the Congress should demand a vote of confidence. Why? No answer. Actually, the BJP realizes that it has no support for its opportunistic politics. Today, the anti-BJP sentiment is stronger than the anti-Congress one. Which is what prompted Kumar Ketkar (a known Congress supporter, though he doesn’t declare this openly) to ask why the term lame duck was always used only for the ruling party and not the opposition. Well said!

The BJP’s poor state of affairs becomes clear when indications emerge that Nitish Kumar is deserting the NDA and Jayalalitha (who shares such a cozy relationship with Modi otherwise) is also making overtures to the Congress. This is after the likely beneficiary of the Congress’s troubles in AP, Jagan Congress has categorically stated that it wants to have nothing to do with the BJP. And the TMC has said the exact same. So think about where the BJP stands. It has a reducing strength of its own (it will lose Karnataka shortly), and it has no natural allies. The only way it can hope to come to power is if a few parties join it’s coalition after it has somehow secures a large mandate. But how does it secure the large mandate in the first place? With Modi at the helm? Impossible! Every now and then, the people get to see what the party stands for. Whether it is their MLA in Maharastra who was suspended yesterday because he attacked a cop, or their MP who describes women in the most pathetic manner possible. The BJP exposes itself more and more as the days go by. There is a huge disconnect between its spokespeople who speak fluent English and look polished, and its cadres which are largely made up of orthodox and regressive sadhus, sants, pujaris, and brown chaddi wallas.

The real truth is that no matter what happens to the Congress, the BJP is not gaining from it. No one wants to join in. That is why it is not moving the No Confidence Motion. It accuses the Congress of not being to handle its allies; but it is under threat of losing its own. This state of the opposition augurs well for the Congress. It will survive, with or without the DMK….

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