The general elections are clearly just days away from being announced, as a flurry of boastful and wasteful government advertisements in newspapers and on television seem to suggest, and one thing is becoming quite clear even before the Election Commission calls its media conference to announce the dates.
That barring a mammoth, unforeseen incident/event of monumental proportions, neither the Congress nor the BJP looks likely to reach the 272-figure on its own. Former Union minister Arun Nehru‘s back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the two parties will end up with 150 and 134 seats respectively and the regional parties will get around 260. Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu said recently that the two main parties will, together, not get 272. (They currently occupy 282 seats.)
Assuming that this—another “hung” parliament resulting in an “unstable” coalition government once again—is a bad thing, an even bigger indication of the shape of things to come is a slew of stories emanating from Delhi, resurrecting the idea of a “national” government, in which both the Congress and the BJP will be equal partners.
Former RSS ideologue K. Govindacharya suggested a “joint front” in Ahmedabad recently.
“I see the BJP as a saffron Congress. I also visualise seeing more corrupt and unstable governments. It is therefore best for the country if the BJP and Congress join hands to form the next government at the centre,” Govindacharya, who fell out with the BJP, said.
Now, Rajat Sharma, former media advisor to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the bossman of India TV, has revealed that he is party to fresh moves to form a “grand alliance” between the Congress and the BJP, and that it has the approval of “at least two powerful leaders of Congress and the BJP who spoke to me”.
“Both Congress and the BJP have run coalition governments. Both have been badgered by their allies. Both know what it feels to grin and bear it. So, the formula has re-emerged from this pain. The two major leaders who spoke to me in great detail recently are convinced that this formula would work. Above all, they see it in overall national interest.”
Questions: Is a coming together of such sworn political enemies possible? Is it a good idea or a bad dream? Will it work? Will it last? Are our so-called “national” parties incapable of ever coming to power on their own again? Is a “grand alliance” in the national interest or in the self-interest of the two main parties? Do voters place their trust in regional parties, in the full knowledge of the inherent dangers of instability, because of their trust in them or because of their distrust of the so-called “national” parties?
Read the full articles: A Congress-BJP government?