The next eight weeks would be very cucial for India’s future. This may sound cliched as the phrase is repeated before every general election but India is at a very important point wherein if we fail to capitalise on our demographic dividend, we may miss the bus again. And when we see leaders like Sharad Pawar, Mayawati, Ram Vilas Paswan aspiring for the top job with no national agenda, it sends shivers down the spine. Will we again see someone like Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrashekhar (1990), Devegowda (1996) or I K Gujral (1997) who became Prime Minister not because of public support but because they had least political opposition? Will we again see a period of political uncertainity, policy paralysis & indecisive Government? We are told that Manmohan Singh could not carry out any economic reforms as he was dependent on Communists. What would a Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan or Mayawati do who would be even more dependent on Communists and other smaller parties ? If scientific and not so scientific polls are to be believed, we would see UPA leading a hung parliament i.e. none of the pre poll alliance will get the majority. In 2004, all opinion polls, exit polls and astrologers were proved wrong. There is no reason to believe that this may not happen again.
There are several possibilities if neither NDA, UPA or the third front gets majority. But the three most probable scenarios are :
- Post elections, parties which comprise third front would join either NDA or UPA resulting in a Congress or BJP led Government
- Communists could support Congress led Government which does not include Manmohan Singh and P Chidambram
- Either Congress or BJP decide to support a Sharad Pawar or Mayawati as PM.
Of all the three possibilities, it is the third possibility which is the bleakest of all. All previous third front Governments were either supported by BJP or Congress (Janata Party of 1977 had Jan Sangha (former BJP) as an important constituent). Both BJP and Congress have nothing to gain politically by supporting a third front Government at the centre. Congress has seen its base shrinking and loosing ground to the same parties which it supported to form Government in the centre (SP in Uttar Pradresh, RJD in Bihar and JD (S) in Karnataka are a few examples). BJP paid the same price in UP for supporting Mayawati thrice to become Chief Minister. So will Congrerss or BJP support Mayawati to become PM ? Not if they are serious about being relevant in Indian Politics.
Mayawati and her supporters believe that the country is moving towards bi polar polity and wish to see BSP as one of the two poles. That means exticntion of either BJP or Congress. Any move by Congress or BJP to support Mayawati would be detrimental to both BJP and Congress. And hence even if Maywati gets 60 seats from UP (the most optimistic scenario) and insists on becoming PM, she would be as irrelevant as Mulayam was with 37 MPs in the fourteenth Lok Sabha. Apart from Mayawati, leaders like Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Jayalalita are not serious contenders. All these leaders are fighting for their political survival and are not even contesting all the seats in their respective states. Talks of Prime Ministership are just a gimmick to enthuse voters on regional and caste lines. Sharad Pawar’s party is facing a dual anti incumbency in Maharashtra. The fact that he raised the issue of Marathi PM should clear doubts about his seriousness for the top job. Pawar is too seasoned a politician (He has tried his luck before in 1991 after the death of Rajiv Gandhi) to know that one cannot become a serious contender for PM of India by stoking regional passions.
The carrot of Marathi PM is for the voters in Maharashtra to beat the anti incumbency factor. Shivsena realised this a little late. But will the voter in Maharashtra realise this gameplan before he votes? We will know this only on 16th May.