The recent outburst of Samajvadi Party (SP) Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav against the Congress party and the UPA II government at the Centre and his ‘Mulayam’ approach towards the ‘fundamentalist, communal’ BJP reminds me the story of bats.
In Panchatantra the story goes like this: Once there ensued a terrible war between the animals and the birds. The animals seemed to inch near victory when they were approached by the bat that pleaded to join them as animal. They agreed. However, after some time the birds defeated the animals and fetched victory to their party. Soon the same bat approached the birds singing praises and pleading to let him join the bird-party. As the birds were convinced they allowed the bat into their fold. After some time both the warring parties declared ceasefire and signed the peace agreement. Now the bat found itself in a very precarious situation he could neither be welcomed in the animal party nor would the birds allow him to remain with them. He felt so lonely and forlorn as nobody would shake hands with him.
Similarly, in the war of political one-up-man-ship the country has been witnessing since some years between the so-called ‘secular’ and ‘fundamental, communalist’ forces, the parties like SP, DMK, TMC and their leaders Mulayam Singh, M Karunanidhi, Mamta Banerjee et el remained with the ‘secular’ Congress. When they realized that the BJP, which they dubbed as most rabidly communal and fundamentalist party, might score over the Congress, they started singing lyrics in praise of their leaders-present and past.
The moot question here is: Should such ‘friends’ be trusted? Agreed that in politics no one is a permanent foe or a friend and that everything is fair in love and war, will the BJP leadership ponder a while and give a serious thought to the gimmicks of these parties and their leaders whose primary aim is to remain glued to the seat of power, scruples or no scruples !
Mulayam Singh’s latest tirade against the Congress and the UPA government should be seen in this context. Launching a blistering attack on the Congress he had said that it was not easy to fight with the Government because it has ‘thousand hands and the CBI’ and can put anyone behind the bars. Mulayam had also described Congress as a ‘deceitful party’. He said that though he had supported the Congress in ‘bad times’ but the UPA government has put the CBI after him. He also blamed the Congress for ‘terrorizing’ its allies for ‘extracting’ support for the government.
The SP Supremo also predicted early elections to the Lok Sabha as he foresaw the downfall of the scam-riddled UPA II. The elections, he believed, would most likely be held in November this year along with the assembly elections of the five states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram. The political observers put the BJP-led NDA at an advantageous position over the Congress and UPA in these states as also in the Lok Sabha elections. Congress is most likely to opt for mid-term polls lest these assembly results influence and spoil its likely gains if the Lok Sabha elections were held as per schedule.
Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajvadi Party with 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha mean a big stake for the UPA II government. After the withdrawal of support by the DMK on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils, it is the SP on whose crutches the Manmohan Singh government is standing. It can’t afford to lose this crucial support. No wonder then the recent praise Mulayam heaped on the BJP patriarch L K Advani has disturbed the Prime Minister who must have deciphered the hidden signals in it.
Describing Advani as “tallest leader” in the country, Mulayam on March 23 said that he was the honest leader at present. “Advaniji desh ke sabse bade neta hain. Who kabhi jhoot nahi bolte”, the SP Supremo said triggering speculations that he was cozying up with the BJP keeping an eye on the Lok Sabha elections.
Advani too reciprocated by lauding the role of the great socialist leader and mentor of Mulayam Singh Yadav the late Dr Ram Manohar Lohia. Addressing the two-day BJP State Executive at Chitrakoot Advani recalled his interaction with Dr Lohia stating that he “respected the Bharatiya Jansangh’s philosophy of cultural nationalism”.
Mulayam too was quick to repay this compliment by describing in Lucknow Bharatiya Jansangh’s founder Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee as a ‘great leader’.
The SP leader also justified his statements and did not see any wrong in praising the BJP leaders. “If the BJP leader has praised, it’s a good thing. A good leader should be praised. A lot of hue and cry was raised by media when I appreciated Advani... Those who had done or are doing good things should be appreciated. Should one, who is doing good, be abused?”, Yadav asked.
These ‘friendly’ exchanges between the two perpetually warring parties (given the background of Ayodhya movement when Mulayam was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in the 90s) must have disturbed the Congress leadership to the extent that they immediately enquired on which side the SP leader was? The Congress hit back at Mulayam Singh Yadav reminding him that his party was supporting the UPA and that he had shared dais with the Prime Minister last year when the UPA’s progress report was released.
Dismayed at the sudden shift in their trusted ally, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi wanted to know as to how Mulayam Singh could appreciate BJP and L K Advani who had a role in the demolition of the ‘Babri Masjid’ and ‘communal riots in Gujarat and Godhra’. Union Minister Manish Tewari too joined Alvi in denouncing Mulayam Singh dismissing the idea of Third Front as ‘most enduring mirage’. He expressed hope that the SP would continue to extend ‘very constructive support’ to the UPA government and help in restoring the ‘atmosphere of harmony’.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is a very shrewd and clever politician. He is apt at anticipating the future trends. He, like other politicians, too has understood the political reality of coalition era the country is currently passing through. That understanding must have prompted him to float the idea of a Third Front sans ‘secular’ Congress and ‘communal’ BJP. The ‘Third Front’ as envisaged by Mulayam Singh would attract a motley crowd of ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ parties that would come under some political compulsion and provide a sort of justification to their alliance sans any common ideological sharing. In 1989 the country had witnessed such a coalition under the V P Singh regime but that did not last long.
By trying to revitalize the ‘Third Front’, Mulayam Singh perhaps wants to set in motion the process of dumping the national parties for their failure on various fronts. He is shrewd enough to realize the importance of regional parties like SP at their respective state levels but at the same time he is seriously toying with the idea whether these parties could play a decisive role at the national level by decimating the Congress and the BJP. However, his praise of Advani or Shama Prasad Mukherjee must have come from the realization that his party needs the support of the BJP to remain in power in his own state. When Advani commented on the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh was quick to respond. “Advani sahab says UP is in very bad state and corruption is rampant.... Now I have to assess the situation when a senior leader like Advani says such a thing. He never lies. He always speaks the truth, as I have said many times.... I’ll go and meet him again,” Yadav said.
Mulayam’s closeness with BJP naturally disturbed the political apple cart of the Congress. But more importantly, it is Mulayam Singh who seems to be using this opportunity to make the Congress realize that he and his party is ‘indispensible’ for them in this political bargaining game. By this he wants to grab as much as he can from the Congress as ‘cost of his support’.
The BJP also should not get swayed with his sudden change of heart for Mulayam Singh wants to sail in two boats at once. He is confident that the BJP has a better chances over the scam-studded Congress in the present scenario and that a tilt in favor of BJP would secure a better political future for himself and his party too. The BJP should realize this ‘hidden agenda’ of Mulayam Singh’s recent anti-Congress tirade.
Advani had said that no government at the centre could be possible without Congress or BJP. If this is so, why can’t the BJP and Congress come closer and form a United Front to keep all these regional political bats away and usher in an era of viable coalition politics?
This idea of a workable coalition of BJP and Congress is not new. It has been discussed earlier also. Both the parties have most programs and policies in common and the only bone of contention could be the emphasis on Hindutva ideology of the BJP. The BJP has failed to convey the correct meaning of Hindutva as our national identity to the people and the political parties as well. This confusion over Hindutva got further complicated with BJP’s dilly-dalling with it at the election time in the recent past. Hindutva is our national identity as French, German, British, American, and Kenyan etc. and there can be no adjustment or compromise with it. There is nothing like hard nor soft Hindutva; nor it can become a plank for winning elections. The BJP failed to send this message clear and loud. Hence, this confusion. The ‘secular’ media further compounded this confusion by its unrelenting campaign and canvassing dubbing Hindutva as a ‘narrow, parochial and sectarian’ ideology. This has resulted in waning away friends and supporters for the BJP and the 1996 defeat of Vajpayee government on the floor of the parliament by just one vote bore testimony to this stark reality.
There are, however, a great number of leaders in the Congress who subscribe to the philosophy of cultural nationalism as does the BJP. They can be convinced to join hands with the BJP to form a solid, workable, viable and lasting coalition to ensure good governance and development sans corruption and other maladies that have gripped the country.
This could be worth trying for yet another reason. Such a coalition, once formed, can show the regional bargaining parties their real place in the public and in the polity, besides promising a clean, efficient and effective government to the country.