STUNNED BY THE SPEECH

Useless opposition

By Malvika Singh
  • Published 9.10.07
  •  

It was a rather special Sunday treat to find the otherwise we-know-it-all-before-it-happens press a trifle stumped and wholly confused after hearing Sonia Gandhi’s speech in a district of Haryana where she had gone to lay the foundation for a power project. She made an emphatic, sensible statement, putting to rest the endless, rather meaningless speculation that we have had to endure for weeks — on what the consequences of certain actions could be. Her speech made immediate national news and the day found the pompous analysts napping, thankfully.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had painted itself into a dark and dismal corner with the unrelenting Karat rhetoric on every move that the United Progressive Alliance makes, particularly the US deal and the forest bill, causing much angst and irritation to most open-minded, energetic intelligent people, unencumbered with archaic ideological dos and don’ts. Now, with Sonia Gandhi’s public intervention, the Left is in a pickle despite A.B. Bardhan and his predictable pronouncements. Emergency meetings are in full swing as the sheep in wolves’ clothing see the writing on the wall. Early elections could well see the Left reduced in number, with a maximum of forty seats! No politician wants to let go of the short-term gaddi and snap polls are an anathema to those who have not built strong constituencies for themselves.

The Bharatiya Janata Party needs time to regroup, rebuild and reconstruct its machine. It would like the UPA to sit through its full term being needled and abused by the Left from ‘outside’. Mulayam Singh would want to have until 2009 to rebuild his frayed base. Mayavati would like some time to infiltrate Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and other states, not merely to split the vote but to win seats.

Useless opposition

In fact, no one wants to have a snap poll but all parties have behaved in a juvenile fashion, jockeying for recognition and power, constantly needling the prime minister and his team at the cost of governance and growth. Motivated by personal interests only, political parties have exposed their intellectually limited agendas. Sonia Gandhi seems to have called their bluff. Stunned for a brief moment, their blathering ceased, but they will be back on the small screen by Monday, flinging their anger at being caught unawares on the viewers.

The Congress too is pulling in different directions. Those who feel they may not be re-elected are against early polls. Others who look at the larger scene and try to assess it, react differently. However, Congressmen and women tend to follow a strong leader, and resort to backbiting and double speak when they see their leader dither. This time too they don’t quite know what has hit them. One small speech has caused consternation and compelled endless ‘emergency’ huddles.

Till the Lok Sabha reconvenes in November, the guessing game will continue unless some party with the required numbers calls on the president to allow a new government formation. Unlikely. Who will lead the no-confidence vote? Will it be the National Democratic Alliance? Will it be the Left? It is all rather complicated and the UPA could carry on as a minority government for the full term. Then, in 2009, will the lame duck UPA be able to lead the country to the national polls on a winning wicket?

The loud bully-like pouting and posturing of smaller parties has let India down. The inability of political leaders to play the game professionally, using intellect instead of superficial rhetoric, has forced the country into a no-win situation. For a confident coalition, the lead party needs to have 200 seats. The irresponsibility of the political class that sits in the opposition is setting India back, repressing a generation that wants to move on and face the challenges of a changing world, and wants release from the bondage of poverty and abysmal infrastructure.