The Issue of India’s Political Alliances
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has announced her decision to go solo in all future elections. But her decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Rather it was the most expected outcome after general elections 2019 in the wake of the failure of the so called grand alliance, which BSP formed with Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in Uttar Pradesh.
It is a lesson for those who are still interested in stopping Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) juggernaut in various states of the country through coalition politics. In all recent elections, alliances hurriedly formed with the sole aim of grabbing power had been out rightly rejected by Indian electorate. So those who are nursing dreams to ascend to power with the help of hotchpotch politics should desist from taking such steps as it might be counter-productive.
Though India has seen coalition politics since the late sixties, the reason behind electorates’ apathy towards such politics is easily understandable. In 1967, Congress for the first time since Independence failed to attain majority in West Bengal assembly elections. But the alternative government formed by various opposition parties, did not last long. The same drama was enacted two years later in 1969 despite Congress getting even fewer seats than in 1967.
At the central level, first tryst with coalition politics took place in 1977. But the Janata Party government led by Morarji Desai did not last long. The same story was repeated in 1989, when the coalition government lasted only 11 months. In between 1996 to 1999, the country had to face three mid-term polls to find a stable government. But it is not that all coalition governments in India have failed. Atal Bihari Vajpayee led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were coalition governments which completed full term. In states Like Kerala or in West Bengal a couple of coalition governments lasted for a full five years.
If one closely examines the success mantra of successful coalition governments, one will find that hegemony of the main political party was never in question. In NDA, BJP was the major partner, while during UPA’s tenures no alliance partner was in a position to challenge Congress. Similarly, in Kerala or West Bengal the Left Front is totally dominated by CPI (M). But in the case of said grand alliance, there was no dominant party. Both Mayawati and Akhilesh were calling the shots and more importantly they were not in the same wavelength.
The problem with the present regional satraps in India is that all of them are interested in occupying the country’s top post without being aware of the ground reality. Be it Mamata or Mayawati, everyone dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister of the country. But they did not realise that even if they became Prime Minister, the government would not last long as one cannot be supreme in a house of 543 members with just 50 to 60 members of his or her own. So, now just two options are available before the opposition parties in the country. Either, they fight against BJP alone or form an alliance, agenda and settle leadership issues. Otherwise, the alliances will never be able to pose a real challenge to BJP.