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Ifs and Buts, Pros and Cons - The Asian Age

Editorial ()
March 5, 1998

Title: Ifs and Buts, Pros and Cons
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: March 5, 1998

The fun and games have begun. The politicians have begun
converging on Delhi to strike post-poll alliances and just about
everyone is meeting everybody. The CPM general secretary, Mr
Harkishen Singh Surjeet, was the first to propose a Congress-led
government with United Front support. He even suggested the
possible Prime Ministers: Maharashtra strongman, Mr Sharad Pawar,
or Congress president, Mr Sitaram Kesri. The intention was
clearly to ensure that the dynastic factor in the Congress party
was minimised as both these leaders are not close to Mrs Sonia
Gandhi. The Congress was almost immediately divided into two
camps, one supportive of Mr Surjeet's idea and the other almost
insistent that the party sit in opposition. The regional parties
in the United Front have clear reservations about supporting a
Congress-led government with Telugu Desam leader, Mr Chandrababu
Naidu, visibly not in favour of the idea. The regional parties
have a solution: let the United Front form the government and
Congress support from outside again. Mr Surjeet will now have to
take a decision whether the priority is to bring the Congress
into power or keep the United Front united, as both do not seem
to be conducive to each other. The Kerala unit of the politburo
also have objections to supporting a Congress government at the
Centre. The games can continue till the very end when the
President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, finally demands an answer. The BJP
is desperately soliciting support to make up the 20 seats it
requires to stake claim. A section of the United Front and the
Congress is equally desperately trying to stall this. But finally
there is a point when one expects the politicians to act with
some restraint and maturity. The Congress pulled down the
government on an issue which did not even figure in the polls.
The result was that the BJP and its allies have reached the 250
mark, from just 191 seats in the Lok Sabha the last time around.
The BJP wants to form the government. The United Front and the
Congress should sit out of this particular round and ensure that
their time in opposition is spent in strengthening their base and
carrying out a political campaign directed towards checking the
communal forces and strengthening the secular base in this
country. There is a time to govern, and a time for serious
introspection. This could be the time for the latter and a
strong, effective Opposition at this time perhaps can do more
towards realising forgotten promises than a government dependent
on all kinds of parties and individuals to keep it in power. The
counter argument of course can be that the communal forces, if
allowed to gain power, can create a situation where the system is
made to work to their advantage at the expense of secular
democracy. This is the assessment that the political leaders have
to make. And this assessment cannot be made through hasty and
unnecessarily strident assertions but through in-party
discussions where all the pros and cons of the alternatives are
discussed threadbare and a decision taken not for power, but for
the long term interest of the country and its people. As the past
has shown power often corrupts. It is imperative that "today" is
replaced by at least "the day after tomorrow" in the politicians'
eyes, as otherwise the people's verdict will continue to be
checkmated by those representing nothing but their own interests
in the final analysis.

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