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Allies missing in cabinet and future Of INDIA alliance

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Allies missing in cabinet and future Of INDIA alliance
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Zamana kiski raoonat pe khak daal gaya?

Ye kaun bol raha tha khuda ke lehje mein?

(On whose arrogance has time heaped a pile of dust?

Who was it pretending to speak the language of Gods?)

I thought this definition of hubris by Iftekhar Arif had summed it all up until I saw the Prime Minister, the great illusionist that he is, go through the swearing-in ceremony as if nothing had happened. All the key cabinet posts had been retained by colleagues in the pre-election government. Where were the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar’s nominees?

“Unconditional surrender” screamed one journalist known for his outspokenness. He does not realize that the name of the game for the two allies is “power” in their respective states, not cabinet posts. Remaining outside the union cabinet enhances their capacity to blackmail. This way they strengthen their power base in the states. In any case, Chandrababu Naidu’s pet project is the capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amravati. Nehru invited Le Corbusier to design Chandigarh. Naidu is dreaming on a grander scale.

Neither Naidu nor Nitish are secure in their regional charisma. Should their nominee acquire a high post in the Union Cabinet he may strike a profile which, in time, will begin to challenge the sponsor.

Nitish would have been a huge embarrassment at the centre. His mental balance is, by universal consent, hugely impaired. But he has residual cunning to try to manage early elections in Bihar. He hopes to increase his JDU numbers in the state by being part of the NDA alliance.

The INDIA alliance has made history but it has to be extremely careful until its coherence survives the test of time.

Lay saans bhi ahista

Ke nazuk hai bahut kaam

Aafaaq ke is kargahe

Sheesha gari ka

(Breathe gently in this glasswork;

The cosmic arrangement is too delicately balanced.)

It has been an anxious past decade which is why Mir Taqi Mir’s words of caution come to mind every time one fears a faulty step by INDIA. So far, the alliance has played beautifully but it must be careful because the media will not change overnight. Big corporates are still busy shoring up Modi. In the meantime, the media can play a disruptive hand. The election results were a vote of no confidence in the mainstream media too. With its credibility so suspect, will its moves be effective in unsettling INDIA? But it can create ill will almost imperceptibly. Some days ago front pages of newspapers and TV channels had one photograph. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are in one frame, repeated several times.

What is the effect of this photograph? The coterie around the party leadership sees in this projection a vindication of their dream. INDIA is, after all, Congress-led. The party’s climb to 100 seats is a result of Rahul Gandhi’s incredibly successful yatras. He is now a mature leader who helped author a people-friendly manifesto, sensitive to the yawning economic inequalities.

Fair enough, but was it not the Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav who trounced the BJP in its seemingly impregnable fortress of UP. He is the giant killer who helped win 43 Parliament seats in the most populous state. That it was Akhilesh Yadav who bearded the BJP lion in his den is the extraordinary event of the campaign which the media will not project at all let alone with the frequency of the three Gandhis in a frame. Neither the Congress nor the Gandhis are to blame, but they should be aware that optics can be misunderstood by touchy coalition partners.

I remember a conversation I had with Akhilesh in Lucknow in 2017. He said he was let down by Rahul despite an understanding. “Yeh log hamare saath baithna bhi pasand naheen kartey.” (These people – Rahul Gandhi, etcetera – are uncomfortable even sitting with us.) He was giving vent to his caste angst. The stakes are too high for the INDIA to allow such sensitivities to create misunderstanding. Much has happened since 2017. Rahul and Akhilesh are mature leaders today. The good news is that the effort at playing spoilsport for the Alliance to shore up Modi will be undertaken by the same “Godi” media which has been roundly thrashed in the recent elections. A hundred flowers bloomed in the digital YouTube media. Brilliant journalism flourished outside the compromised mainstream. This new, bubbly media threw up star journalists. It clearly had a hand in the electoral outcome.

New Delhi’s drawing rooms are misleading places to gauge national politics. The tendency of the upwardly mobile middle class is to locate connections in the emerging power equations. This class is happy that the Modi juggernaut has been halted in good time before it could destroy the liberal Constitution in order to install a theocratic Hindu nation. That has been averted. But the alternative that is emerging is not the one this class is comfortable with.

This elite has dreamt up India as a non-existent two-party system – the BJP or the Congress. It grimaces at the BJP’s anti-Muslim excesses and finds the Congress better mannered on this count. But what this class sees on offer is not the Congress but the INDIA alliance. The Congress is admittedly the largest party, but SP’s Akhilesh Yadav is an equal stakeholder. The Congress's contribution is quantitative by virtue of its spread across the country. Akhilesh’s contribution is qualitative. Wrenching UP away from the BJP was an unbelievable achievement. TMC’s Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata and other Alliance members deserve equal attention.

Ye maikhana hai,

Bazm e Jum naheen hai

Yahan koi kisi se kum

Naheen hai

(This is a Tavern, not Jamshed’s Palace

Nobody is higher than anyone here.)

It just as well that a Rahul-Akhilesh dhanyawad (Thank you) yatra across UP is being put together – to begin with.

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TAGS:Narendra ModiINDIA blocLok Sabha Elections 2024NDA Government
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