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Choosing the Coalition Leader-

Is it Devil and the Deep Sea Choice?

Friday May 15, 2009, Ram Puniyani





Mehmood Madni Addressing the press after visiting Malegaon that was rocked by a bomb blast on September 29, 2008 two days before Eid Al Fitr


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Alienated Generation

Aman Ki Talaash Mein

The country is waiting the results of 15th Loksabha elections with bated breath, (13th May 2009).  It is becoming clear that no single party is going to get the simple majority, neither UPA nor NDA. The third front idea mooted by Left front, with motley regional parties with diverse ideologies is way behind in the race as is apparent from the electoral arithmetic. In this melee the strong efforts have been launched by BJP and Congress both to ensure that they are able to cobble up a majority. In this direction they are trying to take every possible party on board, irrespective of local dynamics of friendship or hostility. With the possibility of third front not taking off, how should local parties decide whom to choose as the leader of coalition, BJP or Congress?


There are many to argue that there is not much difference between these two parties on most of the issues, globalization, nuclear deal, economic policies and communalism, so how does one choose on ideological basis?


It is partly true of course. As far as globalization is concerned, when initially Dr. Manmohan Singh as finance minister of Narsimha Rao Government initiated the process, BJP retaliated by saying that Congress is high jacking their agenda. As far as nuclear deal is concerned, BJP did express its opposition to the deal but that was purely on some superficial technical matters. As such BJP is more than willing to play subservient role to the US. This was evident when US had planned to invade Afghanistan, on the pretext of 9/11, and BJP led coalition went out of the way to offer the base for refueling of US planes on Indian soil. In these matters while Congress has also deviated from the path of non alignment, BJP has been the champion of pro US policies most of the time.


On economic issues, the one’s related to policies affecting the poor in more direct way, BJP has generally no place for those, and its major focus is on identity issues. It is a political front of RSS, which wants to usher in Hindu nation, do away with the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and bring in a new constitution based on Holy Hindu books, in other words a Constitution based on the values of caste and gender hierarchy of Manu Smriti in particular. Advani’s letter to the thousand religious leaders not only talks of bringing religion in social and political affairs of the country, it also talks of modifications in Indian constitution. One recalls changing Constitution was one major thing NDA undertook, but it had to drop that due to massive opposition from the broad layers of democratic elements in the country, including dalit groups.


BJP built itself up as the major party around Ram Temple issue and later harped on Uniform Civil Code, Ram Setu and Amaranth shrine type of issues. It is during BJP led NDA regime that the school text books were communalized; blind faith was promoted in the form of introducing Astrology and Karmakand (Holy Rituals), Paurohitya (Clerical learning) in the Universities, in addition to giving space to all RSS progeny in social and political arena.


Congress, despite its million flaws and weaknesses, took up the issue of Right to information to initiate the process of transparency in public life, something which is a prerequisite for abolishing corruption and deepening the democracy. It did reach the poor of the poor by implementing Minimum Employment Guarantee scheme, which has the potential of reducing rank poverty and elevating the level of poor. It is not to say that both these have totally been successfully implemented, but the path is correct and the direction is right. While Modi, the poster boy of BJP,’s model of ‘development is creating a state with affluence for Tatas, Ambanis and well to do middle classes, the states’ poor are slipping lower on the scale of economic status, hunger index, sex ratio decline and atrocities on dalit/Adivasis going up.


While Sachar Committee report remains in the freezer till now, Congress did initiate it and is committed to implement it in the direction of affirmative action. It is likely that if enough pressure is put it may be implemented. BJP stands totally opposed to any affirmative action for poor and minorities.


As far as communalism is concerned, Congress rule has seen many a communal riots. It has many a times played the role of onlooker when the violence has been going on. But barring some cases where it has initiated few of them, major being the anti Sikh one’s of 1984, by and large it has played the role of inefficient controller of the violence. It has collaborated at times. Despite this fact the major initiator of violence has been the Sangh Parivar, of which BJP is a part. It has communalized the mind set through its Shakhas, media and schools opened in remote areas.


Most of the inquiry commission reports have shown that it is some organization affiliated to RSS which has played the major role in communal violence. Gujarat came as the peak of Anti Muslim violence and Kandhamal was the culmination of sustained anti Christian violence. Congress led anti Sikh massacre was a single go, inexcusable onslaught, and remains so. Aijaz Ahmad succinctly points out that Congress is pragmatically communal and BJP is programmatically communal.


Minorities are facing the problem of insecurity due to repeated violence against them, to talk of Sachar or providing security to minoties becomes appeasement of minorities for BJP.


Surely country deserves a better party, which is a synthesis of values and actions of the likes of Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar and Gandhi. In the current circumstances we are riddled with a rank communal-anti poor party BJP, and pragmatic communal Congress, which can occasionally also think about poor and weaker sections of society. The point is there can be a space to strengthen the polit in this direction. Hope the regional parties keep this in mind while making their choice.










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