This refers to "The Next Election" (May 13) by Nitin Desai. While I totally agree with his opinion on the quality and civility of the campaign in this election, I apportion the blame to all and sundry. There is no holy cow in this and there is plague in every house. But what I disagree with is the theory the article has tried to build up around a single party majority and the federal structure. In the bargain, the article almost accuses any political party of winning a majority. The article prays that no single party should get majority and the government at the Centre should be a coalition government making it a model of federalism. Better still if a stalemate throws up the government rather than a pre-election formation. I find this strange.
First, any party that gets majority on its own needs to win seats in all four regions of India. Is it not federalism if a single party wins across India? When most of the states vote for a single party, be it the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that would tantamount to federalism also. The party with a clear majority has to have MPs from all major states. What the article concludes is that a BJP MP from West Bengal does not represent federalism in case BJP wins a clear majority but the same MP from the Trinamool or the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or the Congress are cases of federalism since no clear majority had evolved! This is a very strange and convoluted logic.
Secondly, a coalition out of helplessness doesn't augur well for a country like India. The post-poll coalition partners would be in a strong position of blackmail and would result in arm twisting of the worst kind. Don't bank on the fact that Jayalalithaa is dead and the art of blackmail has also died with her.
Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are very good at it. So is the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. We have seen the cases of helpless coalitions. The coalition captain Manmohan Singh has a great experience of these arm twisting tactics when he could not act against Shibu Soren or A Raja citing coalition compulsions. Coalitions of helplessness is no good for a country and the article has done no service to the nation by praying for a state of stalemate so that ?federalism? could be celebrated. But yes, a coalition of principles is a good idea as we have seen in West Bengal where the Left coalitions survived for 34 years.
Deba Pratim Ghatak, Durgapur
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