By S. Sivathasan –
On 2nd of January I thought aloud in my article about Congress under-performing at less than 100 seats in 2014 election. The expectation about Modi and BJP was of their doing exceptionally well at 280 or more. Since December 8, such were the emerging prospects. The latter have now approached 280 or more. The former has hit 100 or less.
Much water has flowed since the state election to dispel the haze. Now with the benefit of first light, guesstimates which seemed heretical are no longer so. Mass gatherings of unprecedented magnitude attracted by Modi, clear messages conveyed thereat, morale and optimism on the ascendant, their ever widening ripple effect on voter consciousness, groundswell seen nationally and rational assessments made by the more discerning are all accessible. Realistic estimates are overtaking wishful speculation. But only orders of magnitude as of now.
Entering the clear sky now is a synthetic cloud called Third Front. It is being thrust into the limelight by the Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI M – (Marxist). What is their genesis and how much weight do they exert? CPI founded in September 1924, is in dithering mode for 90 years and now upon a waning plane. In a near century what credentials have they mustered and what credibility do they command? In a quarter century Communist China had become a reality and has grown exponentially since 1949. In India the party bifurcated into two in 1964, in the background of the ideological struggle of that time. It may be recalled that at that time the CP of Ceylon too broke up into the Soviet Wing under Pieter Keuneman and Chinese wing went with Shanmugathasan.
The Indian CPI (M) bifurcated again into CPI ML- (Marxist Leninist). In 1968 there was a further bifurcation into CPI Maoist or Naxalites. Naxal violence claimed between 1989 and 2013 over 12,000 lives of civilians, security forces and insurgents. They had nothing else worth showing. In 25 years from 1924, the Chinese Communist Party captured power, created history and lifted their country as the second most powerful nation. What have the communists done for India?
Their post-independence achievements were party bifurcation in perpetual mode and mayhem in the country with no end. Pre-independent antecedents were no more illustrious. They became repugnant to the Indian psyche. When Gandhi directed his non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements towards independence in 1930, the communists set their face against it. When World War II broke out, they declared that they would have nothing to do with an imperialist war.
When Germany attacked Soviet Russia, they joined the British war effort and against Indian patriotic endeavor, because the existence of Russia was threatened. The position of the Indian communists was that they will go against India even collaborating with the enemy of independence, if it would serve Russia and world communism. In 1942 when the independence struggle reached its crescendo with the ‘Quit India’ movement, communists were comfortable with imperial Britain and against India’s freedom. Nehru ridiculed them for “holding the umbrella in India when it rained in Russia”. With their Himalayan blunders, they need alliances with bourgeois parties in order to avoid total eclipse. This fear explains their initiative in forging a coalition since isolation was their experience in 2009 despite tie-ups.
For the 2014 election, Modi Effect has driven many political formations into the spectre of partial eclipse. Twelve of them ran into one another in 2009 and a term to designate them was Third Front. This term coined in 2009 superseded the Left Front of 2004. Compared to 2004, despite more parties coming together, they lost 30 seats. Compared to the First Party alliance – UPA, they were short of 173 seats for government formation. Even compared to the Second Party alliance – NDA , the deficit was 80. If this was the situation with a modest swing of the pendulum in 2009, what will happen when the swing is shaping up to be an extreme one in May? This truth can never be lost on the Indian electorate.
If this be the evolving configuration in February, reckoning the mood of the electorate, the seat pattern for April and May can be worked out. Even when BJP and Congress stand alone, they can garner 380 seats if today’s (15.2 2014) position is extrapolated to February end. When their pre poll partners give them about 35 more seats, the remaining number is 128. Out of this how many seats can the Third Front muster when its performance as a 12 party alliance in 2009 was 79? This number had a shortfall then of 193 for a clear majority.
Big Power Status
India will be the third largest economy by 2050, is the forecast of UNCTAD. She will be the most populous country by that time beating the second largest China by 400 million. Can a 12 party alliance, an amalgam of splinters with a false front and a divided back ever lead a great nation, a nation with a history? Can it lay the foundation in the current decade to achieve a high position a mere three decades hence? China the largest economy and among the most powerful nations by that year is ruled by a single party.
Two Party System
US, UK, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Australia are among well-ordered governments with thriving economies, having a two party system. In those states a single party ruling in any one term is generally the rule with coalitions being a rarity. Offering a 12 party coalition for India is only a prescription for misrule and stagnation. Why should India alone, a large country seeking big power status be denied the opportunity for ordered governance? Modi’s prime ministerial candidature was announced on September 13. Only 6 months later, on March 8 the Third Front is to be launched. Does it have a coherent policy set out credibly in a Manifesto? Yet it wants to stake a claim to be the governing alliance in May 2014. What earnestness to launch India into the development trajectory! What seriousness to reach the third highest position in the world economy!
Since an alliance has fissiparous inclinations built into it, an amorphous grouping can never win people’s confidence or their votes. It is likely that voter aspiration may hark back to Indira Gandhi’s performance of 353 in 1980. Modi and BJP appear to have approached three-fourths of it three months ahead of the election. Can the Alliance be anywhere near one – fourth, even in May 2014?
States Big Medium and Small
The biggest states are 6 in number with seats ranging from 80 in Uttara Pradesh (UP) to 39 in Tamil Nadu (TN). They add up to 291 seats making 54% of all seats. BJP’s seat tally in UP of 10 in 2009 is now estimated to reach even 46. The second largest is Maharashtra with 48 seats. The NDA ie BJP & Alliance partners are expected to go up from 9 to above 25 in 2014. In Bihar BJP is estimated to go up by 10 more seats to touch 22seats or 55% of Bihar total.
So 3 of the largest states have increased their estimated tally threefold from 31 to 93. What will it be 3 months hence?
Of the 6 states, Andhra, W. Bengal and TN did not have a BJP presence in 2009. Are they destined to be at nil status even three months hence? No. In 6 states of the next tier having 149 seats or 27%, BJP is estimated to have a net gain of 23 seats. In the third tier of 5 states with 62 seats the net gain for BJP is 6 seats. The balance 41 seats in the Lok Sabha are from 23 of the smaller states and Union Territories. A fair estimate of seats will be available by end April.
US and Modi
Yesterday the US Ambassador met Narendra Modi, a personage US considered persona non grata for nine years. It signifies many things.