Wednesday, May 08, 2013

May sound Cynical but this is how I felt when the results to Karnataka assembly were out

                The people of Karnataka have voted out the BJP. The Congress has ended up the gainer. While B.S.Yedyurappa has been shown his place, the Janata Dal (S) has come out of a state of terminal decline. And if there is one message that is loud and clear, it is that the people of Karnataka have lost one more opportunity to have a government of their own. The natural resources in the state, or whatever is still left, will continue to be looted.
                I will not boast of having the brains of a rocket scientist to say that it is a vote against the BJP. It is too obvious. The BJP would have landed in the same fate – of having to compete with the JD(S) to have one of its leaders enjoy the status of the Leader of the Opposition – even if it had indulged Yedyurappa. The fact is that the party did indulge him and let him stay on as Chief Minister until it was left without another option when the Lokayukta mustered evidence with which he was arrested and sent to jail.
                It was an instance of the party trying to make a virtue of a necessity; and even at that stage, the party let him identify his successor and his close followers incluing Shobha Karandje continued to call the shots in the party and the government. All this, even when its leaders were straining all their nerves to attack the Congress and its UPA partners on charges of corruption. Lest it is mistaken, the Congress cannot claim the victory as a vote against corruption (which its leaders were seen doing) for it was an instance of the pot calling the kettle black.
                I will argue that Justice (retd) Santosh Hegde, whose action as Lokayuktha, seemed a glimmer of hope to the people of Karnataka is also guilty of betrayal. His decision to stay out of the Aam Aadmi Party remains open to criticism. Like his father, Justice K.S.Hegde, the former Lokayuktha must have entered the electoral politics and given the people of his state a choice. By not doing so, Justice Hegde helped the Congress (the pot in this instance) wrest power from the BJP (the kettle in this case). It is sad to say the least.
                Meanwhile, the word is out that the Congress has reasons to feel elated. The Karnataka results were expected to be this way. And there was talk of the party seizing this buoyancy to call for early elections. November 2013, when the people of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajastan and Delhi will have to elect their state governments will throw up another scenario. In the context of the limited choice that the people of these states have, the BJP will have reasons to feel the same way the Congress is now feeling. It is likely to win in at least 3 out of the 4 states. I will still bet on the Aam Aadmi Party insofar as Delhi is concerned.
                The buzz in the media is that the Congress may decide to opt for elections to the next Lok Sabha along with these assembly elections. It makes sense in a way. Some part of the tax payer’s money will be saved by holding simultaneous polls in November rather than have one round in November this year and another in May 2014. That there is a gap of less than six months is also good enough reason for the Election Commission to ordain that way. All these, however, are speculation and the talk of an early election can either go right or wrong. There isn’t a third option as much as there is no scope for a third front in national politics!
                But then, the Congress gamble of early polls will hinge on a few things panning out in the following way:
                The Supreme Court, now hearing the case of the CBI’s status report on the Coal allocation scam finding the whole episode atrocious (which it is) and severely censoring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his musketeers (Ashwani Kumar and S.P.Jaiswal) using some harsh words. The Congress president, who has already conveyed an impression (through the TV channels) that she wants Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Bansal out of the cabinet may decide to seize the opportunity to make a virtue of the situation and confirm what is now mere speculation: That those under a cloud should go. And then, she convinces her son, the angry young man, to come to the rescue of the nation (actually of the party).
                The crown prince then, walking up to the pulpit and do what he best at: To tell the people of this country that he is willing to rise to the occasion, give up on his parties (I hear he enjoys being with his brother in law and such others in their Mehrauli farm house as much as he enjoys preaching to captive audience) and do all that and more such sacrifices for the nation. In other words, the script must have been written already and things may unfold that way in the weeks ahead.
                It is still a gamble. The Congress, after all, is likely to lose Rajastan; is unlikely to wrest Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. And if the FICCI-CII-ASSOCHAM scheme should work, Rahul Gandhi may have to face Narendra Modi. So many imponderables when the Congress has the choice of making the best of a bad situation: To stay on in power, strike a few more deals, let its leaders make a few hundred crores of rupees more and face the music, as it comes, in May 2014. The choice is the party’s.