Recent Rajya Sabha election , a watershed in the history of politics in terms of opposition unity, has jolted the movers and shakers of Delhi politics. No wonder the democracy pathetically is a game of numbers and it does not have any scope for quality or it integrity rating, but marches ahead blindly in pursute of sheer numbers. Famous Urdu poet Iqbal had very rightly described it as
“Jamhoriyat ik tarze hakoomat hai ki jis main Bande gine jate hain tole nahin jate.”
It can be translated as Democracy is a style of governance in which numbers count not the quality or weight of men.” So opposition mused that if all opposition combines it can beat Modi and succeed in democratic game of numbers. It is common practice that when a person faces danger of survival he tries to seek help of others who could give him strength and together they fight the enemy. In the game fornumbers in the election 2014 the number tilted unexpectedly toward a new entrant in the centre of power: Narender Modi. The fear of Modigave birth to Mahagathbandhan in which all the opposition seem to havesought shelter and get prepared to fight the common enemy. But theircontradictions and selfish greed are erupting time and again to scuttle this unity. So far this Maha (short name) has failed to show results and received three major setbacks: do not show very encouraging signs of success in future.
First big setback to Maha was exit of Nitish Kumar to join Modi camp. Those who hoped that Nitish will be acceptable leader to steer the united opposition found their hopes dashed to the ground. No doubt had he continued he was substantial political capital for the Maha and a leader who was by and large acceptable to most of the parties in the group. His departure has hallowed the hope of potential leader of the united group which is difficult to identify as Rahul does not appear an acceptable leader. Karnataka has proved that Congress is prepared for giving up its lead position. Most probably the fight of opposition will be on the basis of each fighting own battle.
Second trial of Maha was challenge of no confidence motion. It miserably failed to garner the numbers that were expected in spite of confident announcement by Sonia Gandhi before the trial that ‘we have the number’. Everyone knew that they have no numbers and are shooting in the dark but they were perhaps testing the strength of Modi camp and their own strength. NDA was rated at314 but got 325 whereas UPA and associates could get 144 but got 126. The result showed massive support to Modi but more than that, UPA’s own associates’ disappeared.
It was a fiasco. Only Rahul could hug PM and wink to prove his cerebral hibernation. Third seismic jolt to the maha was election of Deputy Chairman of RajyaSabha. It was challenging situation where ruling party had no majority and had to prove their ability to woo associates. Astute strategy of Amit Shah proved to devastate the UPA’s perforated hob knobbing with other associates without effective performance. Why could not they ring up and secure votes of BJD, AAP and Shivasena who were inclined to vote for them? Even Mehbooba Mufti did not join them in spite of the fact that she was miffed with NDA.Theycould have got more votes had they put up another party candidate like Vandana Chavan of NCP but UPA seemed to be foxed by crafty Sharad Pawar who withdrew from the race citing lack of support. Mamta too did not help as she avoided speaking to Kejriwal to join them although he was in her orbit. Was she cleverly throwing her weight to determine question of leadership of front? Where was Mahagathbandhan? In Hobbes terms political greed of selfish search for one’s own loaves and fishes were on trial with everyone’s hands on the throat of other.Maha lost miserably by fielding a lack luster candidate in the nick of time after withdrawal of NCP and could manage 101votes. The exuberance shown by opposition on swearing in ceremony of Kanatka CM was abnormal. All opposition collected with high spirits and hopes.
They only proved their success to form Maha by merry making with lavish expenditure on drinks. Karnatka win triggered so much mirth and celebration by opposition that it appeared they have won the General election. I still wonder how Kejriwal spent Rs 85ooo on drinks in two hours. Finally the Maha seems to have evaporated with a whiff. Now there might be talk of limited seat adjustment and Maha after the polls of 2019. But all parties are gearing up for next chapter of Indian power game.
By Prof. NK Singh
(The writer is former Charman International Airports Authority of India and former Adviser, International Civil Aviation Organisation of UN.)