“Politics is a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage”
- Ambrose Bierce
The General Election 2009 is going to be remembered as the most complex event in history. The confusion began with the ruling United Progressive Alliance being reduced to a mere post poll alliance. The Congress Party refuses to go into alliance with most of its supporters in the alliance. The Left Front musters up another confusing and strange creature called the Third Front. This newly formed alliance of parties with absolutely nothing in common except one; the desire to usurp power from the National Parties namely the Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party. Matters are further knotted by the breaking away of old allies such as the the Biju Janata Dal from the BJP led alliance and the formation of yet another front with of Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan. All three of whom were prime supporters of the ruling UPA and two of whom were Cabinet Ministers. Parties like the Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar and the AIADMK led J. Jayalalitha have kept everyone guessing. All in all, there is one thing common amongst them all, they all want to be part of the next government.
Indian politics especially in the age of coalitions and fractured mandates is more to do with political expediency than ideology.
Firstly the Left Front led by the CPI (M) supported a Congress led coalition in 2004 without being a part of the Government. So in a sense the UPA Government was always a minority government. The Left has been ideologically opposed to the every policy of the UPA from the word go. It has been on the streets of this nation protesting against a regime which owes its existence to the Left itself. The Congress is the principal opposition for the Left in its bastion states of Kerala and West Bengal. Therefore this was a marriage of convenience which was always meant to end in a bitter divorce. The Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi in the course of their respective campaigns have called the Left’s ideology regressive. But it baffles me when in the same press conference they send overtures to the Left for their support in the 15th Lok Sabha.
The ‘real’ issues (pun intended) in this election are secularism and national security. On one hand you have the Bhartiya Janata Party which is accused of instigating riots that led to the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat. If I may remind this is also the party whose top leadership stands as accused in the Babri Masjid Demolition Case. On the other hand you have the Congress which is accused of not only instigating but also executing the 1984 Anti Sikh Riots in Delhi. Even when the demolition of the Babri Masjid took place the Congress was in Government at the Centre with P.V Narsimha Rao as Prime Minister yet the demolition took place. Therefore, I have concluded that every political party is as communal and as secular as the other. This ‘holier than thou’ sort of attitude in the Indian polity is unfortunate and has caused a great deal of anguish.
As far as the issue of terrorism is concerned, both parties are accused and guilty of not doing enough for National Security. Attacks on India took place during the reign of both. The Congress is accused of going slow on the execution of Afzal Guru, a convict in the Parliament attack case. The BJP is accused buckling under pressure and releasing dreaded terrorists such as Maulana Masood Azhar who are responsible for uniting Jehadist forces against India. The fact of the matter is real solutions to the problem of security such as police reform and development of an extensive security and intelligence infrastructure in the country have been pushed out of the realm of discussion.
For far too long the Indian electorate has been stuck choosing the better of the worst. We as a nation must strive to convert this into the choice of the best, through participation as candidates and as voters.