Uniting for survival
Uniting for survival, The latest victim is the Shiv Sena. The Janata Dal (U) in Bihar was also a similar victim. In the mid-60s and late seventies, this was the fate of the socialist parties.
Right from the mid-60s, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and then its successor, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has followed a strategy that can be aptly summed up as “engulf and devour.” With this approach, it followed a policy of non-Congressism, and tied up with all the elements opposed to the former ruling party. Its alliance with regional outfits and parties has been based on this principle. But then having engulfed these non-Congress parties, it has devoured these over a period of time.
The latest victim is the Shiv Sena. The Janata Dal (U) in Bihar was also a similar victim. In the mid-60s and late seventies, this was the fate of the socialist parties. Riding the popularity of the then rebel Congress leader, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, on the anti–corruption plank, the BJP then capitalised on the Mandir versus Mandal conflict to emerge the ruling party in the mid-90s. This was also accompanied by the marginalisation of the Janata Dal forces.
After nearly five decades of working with this strategy, the BJP has now come into its own, and with it is born the idea of anti-BJPism. So, there is a reaction, and the former elements of the Janata Dal –represented by Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar Lalu Prasad and H D Deve Gowda – are contemplating the possibility of coming together to form a unified party. It is a noble idea as a concept. But then it has huge political difficulties, and its purchase is doubtful. As a political breed, the socialists are highly prone to fragmentation.
They have never been able to create a mechanism that can resolve their internal differences and keep their outfit as a steady ship. But, all the leaders seem to have realised that they can only survive if they come together. In private discussions, they admit that unless they keep egos in check and make necessary sacrifices, they are simply doomed. So, the coming together is for sheer survival. But there are other realisations as well. This time, they are not talking of the doomed third front that also includes the Left parties. For one, the Left parties are in a decline and then the third front is an idea that has flopped too often. But this proposed Janata outfit is not yet averse to cooperation with the Congress. After its drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, and the subsequent losses in the state assemblies, the Congress too is vying for the opposition space, and this eliminates the possibility of a contest between the Janata combine and the once ruling party.
The efficacy of these combines in political terms would be tested soon in Jharkhand, and then again in the state assembly elections that are to follow in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where the Janata Dal (U) and the Samajwadi Party would be face to face with BJP’s challenge coupled with the anti-incumbency disadvantage.