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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2038

Remote Control Politics Harming Opposition

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

The scene does not look good for the Opposition in India not only because of internal strife and divisions but also because the ‘high command’ of these parties tries to force its decisions on state units. The top leaders of different Opposition parties appear to be incapable of reading the mood in the states and yet expect their fortunes to smile.

A look at what is going on in two parties at the moment will illustrate the point: the Samajwadi Party – a party of father-son- uncles, and the Congress, which has been in ICU since its defeat in the 2014 general election.

The Samajwadi Party, which has treated UP as its fiefdom, lies in tatters just a few months before the assembly elections in the state. The party patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav, refuses to see that the wind is blowing against his style of politics with its many intrigues and collection of ‘controversial’ men and women. The combination of muscle and money power may have helped him in the past in propelling SP to power but the formula needs some modification to be valid in circa 2016.

Times have changed. And so has his image and the manner in which he has been running his party (practically a family concern). His son, Akhilesh, did his best to change the image of the SP as oriented to ‘development’ but his father created obstacles instead of going along with him. Mulayam has astonishingly turned a blind to the fact that if his party has any chance of retaining power in UP or doing reasonably well in case it is not returned with majority, it will be on the strength of his son’s following and his image.

But he has apparently more faith in his brother Shivpal and some controversial figures he has around him, particularly Amar Singh. If Mulayam Singh did not want to share power with his son he should not have anointed him as his political successor and UP chief minister.

It is the chief minister who has to run the administration and deal with myriads of problems. UP was never an easy state to rule. A puppet executive head of a state, as Mulayam expected his son to be, cannot deliver. We have seen that on a bigger canvas when the previous Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was obliged to pay deference to the wishes of 10 Janpath rather than use his own judgement.

10 Janpath may no longer be controlling a Prime Minister but it has been equally indifferent to some of the hard political realities that have emerged out of the Mahabharata in UP. Media reports suggest that the Congress ‘high command’ is pondering over the possibility of an electoral alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav.

It is understandable that the Congress is desperate for a revival in UP where it has been reduced to the fourth position in most electoral battles. But that can be possible if it has an alliance with a party that looks to be ‘winning’. The poll results may eventually prove to be different but anyone who has watched the ‘family drama’ would say that right now Mulayam Singh does not look like a winning horse.

If the Congress has to make a choice between the family members of Mulayam Singh Yadav it will appear that his son is clearly the better option. That, of course, presumes that Akhilesh forms a separate party. It may not happen. But then Akhilesh Yadav will not be able to boost the chances of a ‘united’ Samajwadi Party after a long exposure of the ‘family feud’ which has been quite ugly.

The Congress seems to be making a bigger mistake in Punjab where, many pollsters have said, it does have a chance to return to power. The Congress leaders in Delhi are said to be willing to have an alliance with Navjot Singh Sidhu and his Awaz-e-Punjab group. Some reports say that the Congress is willing to offer him the post of deputy chief minister.

It may turn out to be a media hype but the Aam Admi Party of Arvind Kejriwal has been projected as a big force in Punjab. Some reports have hinted that Kejriwal will become the chief minister if he wins the polls and if talks with Sidhu end on a positive note he will be appointed the deputy chief minister. The whole idea is preposterous; it can harm AAP rather than help.

The presumptive leader of the Congress in Punjab—at least right now—is Capt. Amridner Singh who only recently described Sidhu as a joker. There is every likelihood that the Congress and other parties that eye an alliance with Sidhu have overestimated his popularity and appeal. A section in the Congress is said to be keen to see Sidhu appointed the deputy chief minister if the party wins in assembly polls.

As a parliamentarian Sidhu has a poor record. He was seen more at studios doing ‘comedy shows’ than in his Lok Sabha constituency. Members of the BJP, his party then, had put out posters sarcastically announcing ‘reward’ for locating Sidhu. He had managed to upset the BJP in Punjab and was even more bitter in criticising the ruling Akali Dal with which BJP has an alliance.

Again, nobody can predict what will happen in the election, but as of now, Sidhu does not appear to be a trump card in Punjab elections. He may swing a few seats but that is about all. On the other hand he is certain to be as troublesome for his new partner as he was when he was part of the BJP.

The question remains--though it is hypothetical at the moment--what happens if the alliance which has Sidhu wins the polls? Sidhu will not settle for anything less than deputy chief ministership or a senior ministerial post and then expect the alliance to put up with his ways, including long absence from the state.

By now Sidhu has so firmly entrenched himself as part of TV ‘comedy’ shows that it is difficult to imagine that he will give up that role to settle as a full-time politician. That will surely create headaches for the party or alliance of which he is a part.

- Asian Tribune -

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