The body language of the Mahagathbandhan leaders — admittedly, we are going by the pictures and clips available on the internet — was anything but inspiring, as an obvious sense of desperation and disparateness pervaded the atmosphere
There is a famous scene in the Tamil film Rajathi Raja that has almost achieved cult status in Tamil Nadu, so much so that Rajnikanth had it repeated in his last release Petta, where he mockingly, in his typical insouciant style, has a go at the encircling bunch of goons with the words, “orru motta, orru meesai, 4 school pasanga, adhukku orru thalaivan…”
In rough translation: Rajini is taunting the bumbling guys who have come to attack him, “one bald, one moustache, four school kids and a leader for this …” Obviously, the translation doesn’t carry the biting sarcastic fun flavour of the original.
Yet, the famed lines of Rajinikanth gushed to mind seeing some of the opposition leaders who came together at Sharad Pawar’s home in New Delhi on Wednesday. The sight of the motley bunch of leaders in an unconvincing huddle of sorts, trying to cobble up an alliance, was pretty reminiscent of flailing lackeys in that Rajini movie.
The body language of the leaders — admittedly, we are going by the pictures and clips available on the internet — was anything but inspiring, as an obvious sense of desperation and disparateness pervaded the atmosphere.
Just take a look who all were there: Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, N Chandrababu Naidu, Farooq Abdullah, Arvind Kejriwal and Sharad Pawar.
Now consider this: Kejriwal, a few years ago, stormed the nation’s consciousness with his spirited campaign against Sonia Gandhi’s Congress and the shambolic UPA government.
For most part of his career, Naidu’s politics had been predicated on rabid anti-Congressism. The two parties have had a major fall-out recently in Andhra Pradesh.
Mamata earned her political spurs by fighting it out with the Leftist goons and the Congress cadre on the mean streets of West Bengal.
The storied lives of Sharad Pawar and Farooq Abdullah, of course, are replete with instances of blow hot and blow cold approach towards the Congress.
The other non-present members at the meet who can be expected to be a part of the larger coalition of opposition parties are: the DMK and the Leftists.
Even in the 2014 elections in Tamil Nadu, the DMK and the Congress had a major fallout and went their separate ways in the contest.
The Left in India has always been cunning and opportunistic. But no amount of logical explanation can make people understand the Left’s equation with the Congress. In Kerala, for example, they are sworn enemies. In neighbouring Tamil nadu, they are enemies when they are not part of the same coalition, but friends when they are part of the same team. And this keeps changing from season to season, sometimes they change their position in the same season, heck, sometimes they change on the same day. In West Bengal, they are opposed to the Congress, but they are with the Congress when fighting Mamata, but with Mamata when fighting the BJP. Seriously, if multiple personality disorder had a political affiliation, it would be the Left.
The political status of Biju, Mulayam, HD Deve Gowda/HD Kumaraswamy - the others who can be part of this group - is so fluid that they themselves are not sure where they stand now.
So, this is the combine, we have to believe, will stick together, if at all they get to have a crack at governance, and pilot the country. The mere thought itself is shuddering. Of course, in democratic politics, every party has the right to align with whoever it deems fit. Opportunistic alliance is, in any case, not invented by this combine. Every party can harbour dreams of coming to power as long as the methods are legal.
So to caustically criticise the opposition alliance on the grounds of expediency may not be fair at least in the context of Indian politics, but questions can surely be raised about their agenda and what their stand on individual issues would be. And this is where the inchoate Mahagathbandhan comes apart even more dramatically.
The alliance group’s only agenda, on the face of it, is to unseat Narendra Modi. This is extreme negativity at play here. The opposition wanting to dislodge the NDA because its policies are different from NDA’s, would be perfectly kosher. But here the opposition doesn’t seem to have any one policy of note on any matter that could be deemed as unanimous in its team.
On economy, Naidu would be for industry, Mamata and the Left would be against, the Congress somewhere in between.
In foreign policy, the Congress may want to cultivate the US, the Left will feel betrayed. The Congress may want to cultivate Sri Lanka, the DMK will feel betrayed. The Congress may want to cultivate China, the nation will feel betrayed. But the Left may actually be happy.
In domestic politics, Naidu would want special status for AP. The Congress rebuffed it when it was helming the UPA. The DMK may want the NEET exam scrapped. Of course, it was the UPA government that it was part of that introduced it in the first place.
See, the contradictions tumble out in profusion on just two or three issues itself. Imagine what the case would be if we run the entire gamut.
Coalitions and alliances are fine as long as there is an inner stability, and at least some basic boxes ticked in commonality. The tragedy of the UPA governments was lined in its essential DNA itself. When unlike parties come together there cannot be harmony. They cannot be trusted to put up a strong fight for the nation.
They will come apart like that “orru motta, orru meesai, 4 school pasanga, adhukku orru thalaivan…” gang.
In the film, it was fun. In reality, it will be a disaster.
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Last Updated Feb 14, 2019, 6:36 PM IST