By Nitya Chakraborty
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has talked as a mature politician of the secular camp fighting the BJP when he said at Wayanad in Kerala that he would not speak a word against the Left during his campaign Kerala for Lok Sabha polls, his entire fight would be focused on the BJP and the RSS. At the other end, the CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury was equally emphatic in an interview with the Scroll news portal that he did not feel betrayed by Rahul but he did not get what the Congress was doing.
The general tenor of comments in the media is as if the Left has been snubbed by the Congress President in Kerala but the ground reality and the history of the Congress Left relationship in Kerala are completely different. In Kerala, the Left and the Congress are the main political parties for decades and they have been fighting against each other in both assembly and Lok Sabha elections. But on national plane, to prevent BJP from coming to power, the Left helped the Congress whenever it was needed. Thus after 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Left with 61 seats was the first to announce its support to the Congress to form the government at the centre so that the BJP could not grab power for the second time after 1999.This has been the consistent policy of the CPI and the CPI(M) since the BJP emerged as a big threat to the secular fabric of the Indian society and the constitution.
The same policy is continuing and Rahul Gandhi knows this that in the post 2019 Lok Sabha elections after May 23, the Left will be the only consistent force to oppose BJP on the basis of principle. The Left may get less seats in the next Lok Sabha but the party will be playing a crucial role in navigating the course of opposition unity towards a non-BJP government formation, if there is a hung Lok Sabha which is likely.
As of now, just four days before the starting of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 11, there are clear signs that there is no Modi wave and people are not responding to the BJP’s high pitched hyper nationalism and national security slogans when they are experiencing the rigours of joblessness, price rise and insecurity at every level. All the recent surveys have shown that the Prime Minister has lost his narrative on nationalism post Balakot and this has been replaced by the spectre of unemployment that is haunting the Indian nation as never before. In fact, this has made the PM and the BJP president Amit Shah jittery. The nervous BJP leaders are now resorting to outright lies against the Congress leaders in their election speeches by making use of the manufactured chargesheet of the Enforcement Directorate which is virtually acting as the agency of the BJP.
PM is not mentioning any promise of acche din and job generation. He is focusing only on the nationalism plank and the alleged corruption of the first family. The BJP camp has run out of fresh ideas and they are virtually gasping after the Congress President Rahul Gandhi annou8nced his party’s manifesto elaborating on the minimum income guarantee scheme and other pro-people programmes. The level of seat sharing between the Congress and the other anti-BJP opposition parties, may not be as per expectations but that is not changing the ground level anti-BJP thrust. The Congress will be the major force in a large number if states fighting the BJP and the regional parties will be the major ones fighting the BJP in some other states. The Congress may be an ally or not, that is not mattering now. Whatever understanding has been achieved at the moment is sufficient to bring the BJP’s figure in the new Lok Sabha to less than 160. This will facilitate the process of the making of a non-BJP government at the centre after May 23 and both the Congress and the regional parties which are positioned against the BJP should be prepared to collaborate on the basis of a common minimum programme.
Right now, the duty of both the Congress and the regional anti-BJP parties is to ensure maximum seats for them for reducing the BJP to a minority in the 17th Lok Sabha. The issue of leading the new coalition can be sorted out when the final results of the elections are known. There are earlier experiences of forming such coalition with the Congress leading or supporting from outside. In 1996, the Congress extended support from outside and in 2004, the Congress formed the Government with the support of the Left from outside.
The coalition governments with the participation of the Congress and the regional parties can act as the bulwark of federalism and that is desirable in the present Indian scenario. In fact, all the big programmes announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after he came to power in 2014, are the rehashed versions of the programmes being run by different state governments. Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu have floated a number of pro people schemes which are working very successfully. A new coalition of the Congress and the regional parties can work on a time bound programme for regeneration of the states as also national economy while protecting the secular character of the Indian state. The Congress, Left and the regional parties have to be ready for undertaking this task of transformation unitedly. (IPA Service)