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Come one, come all, says ally-hunting Cong - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau ()
March 5, 1998

Title: Come one, come all, says ally-hunting Cong
Author: Observer Political Bureau
Publication: The Observer
Date: March 5, 1998

National politics has apparently hit the fast track and the
proverbial public memory is getting even shorter with the
"chameleon-like" transformation in the attitudes and utterances
of politicians almost being regarded as the norm.

In the fresh dynamics and equations thrown up by the latest poll
situation - as party leaders never tire of repeating on
television - new solutions and alliances need to be worked out
without being hindered by the "baggages of the past".

Just about everything in this surcharged scenario is subject to
change, hour to hour, moment to moment and the present is surely
the time to work out the arithmetic for putting into place a new
Government at the Centre. It might also be the occasion to refer
to the one document that political party leaders' claim was
sacrosanct while all this hurly-burly of politics is supposedly
being enacted at quite another stratum.

Now that moves are well underway to put together a Congress-
United Front Government at the Centre, it might not be entirely
irrelevant to recall the sentiments or views recorded by one
party against the other in their manifestos released just about
two months ago.

In that not too distant past, the Congress, for instance, had
thought that the United Front was a "rag tag combination of 14
regional and State-level parties with no ideological coherence
and driven by lust for power alone.

The Congress had also regarded as "dangerous, baseless and
hollow" the claim of the UF parties that, "only a coalition
government of regional parties could be a true reflection of our
federal character. "

Naming the TDP, AGP and the Akali Dal in particular, the Congress
manifesto had asserted that these parties could not play a
meaningful role in the national politics as regional parties, by
their very nature, lacked a national perspective and could never
rise over local, ethnic considerations.

The manifesto further stated that regional parties adopted
populist platforms for coming to power and incited narrow,
linguistic or ethnic sentiments. Very soon, as the manifesto
states, these agendas become a recipe for economic disaster and
social turmoil.

The Congress manifesto also said that in the event of a conflict
between national and regional or local interests, regional
parties necessarily chose the latter to "the detriment of India".

About the Left parties, the Congress manifesto had said that
"doublespeak" was characteristic of those parties and that they
had simply failed to integrate themselves into the national

In its manifesto the Congress had also blamed the Left Front for
having "ruined" the economy of West Bengal which "had been one of
the premier industrial states in the country prior to 1977." The
manifesto had also criticised the Left for opposing all sensible
economic policies in the Parliament while its governments in West
Bengal, Tripura and Kerala were trying to attract new businesses
>from abroad and other parts of the country.

The manifesto also registered the protest of the Congress against
the nti-Congressism of the Left parties which had manifested
itself on several occasion.

It said that the CPM had played a leading role in giving
respectability to the BJP in 1989 in its naked opposition to the

The manifesto further stated that the law and other situation in
West Bengal was particularly bad, political victimisation had
taken place on an unprecedented scale and that a 'cadre raj' had
been established, destroying the established administrative

In its manifesto the Congress had expressed the view that lack of
infrastructure, poor road connectivity, non-responsive
administrations and an overwhelming influence of partisan
interests in the decision making processes were factors that were
holding back investors from investing in the three Left ruled

About the Janata Dal the manifesto said that that party had been
born in a convulsive fit of anti-Congressism and that it was a
collection of disparate groups and embittered individuals driven
by egos. The party could hardly be called a serious political
formation, according to the manifesto.

It had further been stated in the manifesto that the Janata Dal
was, like an amoeba, living by splitting itself into smaller and
smaller groups and that its platform of social justice was hollow
and was just a misleading cover for the practice of a divisive
caste politics.

The manifesto also said that the leadership of the Janata Dal in
the United Front under two Prime Ministers had been disastrous
and that the economy had been ruined during the tenure of the UF

In fact, as the manifesto adds, there had been no real governance
during the tenure of the UF and all matters had been allowed to

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