Brokers in Action

Parliamentary Democracy has long been hijacked by the ultra rich. Money talks. And it talks loudly, if not nakedly, in the southern state of Karnataka where members of legislative assembly were supposed to be auctioned the way cricketers are auctioned in what is called Indian Political League (IPL) by a saffron veteran who is no longer with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Finally the auction was postponed, thanks to the apex court’s intervention. Even before the polls when the media was predicting a hung assembly, fuelling the speculation that in post-poll Karnataka, horse-trading, rather ‘donkey-trading’ as the late Chaudhury Charan Singh used to call it, would be the logical conclusion. Amit Shah, the redoubtable BJP president was confident enough to tell his people that they would, under any circumstances, form the government in Bengaluru. Maybe they are now regreting their entire game-plan which is being condemned by all across the country. The BJP fell short of the majority in the Karnataka assembly but the governor obliged them, ignoring opposition by the Opposition parties, particularly Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) to form the government with the usual rider that they would have to prove the majority on the floor. But the BJP chief minister Mr B S Yeddyurappa, had to resign from his post after two days because he realised, after some humiliation, that he did not have the members to prove his party’s majority.

A week before Karnataka went to polls, Congress, sensing a fractured verdict without giving a clear-cut majority to any party, began to explore the possibility of a coalition government with JD(S) to thwart the saffron march. And CPM general secretary reportedly played the role of Sonia Gandhi’s emissary to open dialogue and chalk out the all important deal with H D Devegowda, the JD(S) patriarch. Devegowda was chosen as a Prime Minister in 1996 to keep BJP out of power in another context. Having faced with the survival crisis Congress was ready to offer the post of Chief Minister to Gowda’s son Kumarswamy while JD(S) too had no problem to issue ‘no objection’ certificate. In truth Congress agreed to back fully JD(S) to run government without any rigid conditions. They had no alliance before the polls because no party wants to lose an inch from their fiefdom while keeping post-poll bargaining option open. They had no common minimum programme either. The situation seems to have compelled them to unite and talk somewhat vociferously against the BJP’s communal agenda. But Kumaraswamy who is going to be sworn in as Chief Minister tomorrow [23-05-2018] had no problem earlier to head the BJP-JD(S) coalition government for 20 months from January 2006. After all they are people’s representatives and they have developed a habit of betraying people to further their vested interests!

For one thing the Congress party now demands, and not quite unjustifiably, the Karnataka model to be replicated in Goa and north-eastern states of Manipur and Meghalaya, where they were not invited by the Governor concerned to form government though they had the status of single largest party. In Bihar too the Yadav brigade had some fodder to chew in relation to Karnataka model.

The CPM general secretary Yechury, the power-broker for Sonia Gandhi’s Congress reminded the Gowdas of secular front days of 1990s, when BJP’s juggernaut was effectively thwarted. It’s difficult to find out a genuine secular front in the Indian drama. Here all are secular and all are communal! All are liberal and all are casteist as well! There are so many parties claiming to be secular and yet the communal BJP, the saffron face of big business, has no problem in winning election after election even in the traditional leftist citadel. The reason is simple : People are tired of hearing secular rhetorics. It is easy to issue sermons on secular and democratic values while avoiding the trouble of addressing the pressing problems of ordinary masses. Amidst charges of horse-trading and counter charges, the oil authorities hiked a Rs 4 per litre increase in petrol and diesel prices. They didn’t hike the prices earlier in view of the adverse impact it might have on the voters in Karnataka. But now election is over. They have no compulsion to ‘‘appease’’ poor voters. Such a steep hike will detonate a chain reaction increasing inflationary pressure in retail market, only to compound agony of wage earners and people toiling in informal sector. Secularists have no time to talk about market mayhem—after all communalism is the main danger before the country!

All these so-called secular parties, including Congress party and Left, have no popular agenda worth the name, to stop the rampaging BJP. In truth elections are fought on minor and secondary issues though galloping income inequity and social tensions have reached alarming proportions. No new job. Nor is there any job security for existing jobholders. And yet they think people will vote for them because they are opposing communal BJP.

Against the backdrop of political developments in Karnataka Congress President Rahul Gandhi, compared the situation in the country with that of Pakistan where democracy is often equated with hypocrisy. This exercise in escapism is not going to improve the lot of the marginalised, with every passing day more and more people are getting marginalised, thanks to Modi’s high-tech chariot of ‘development’.

Modi’s disastrous economic policies scripted by the corporate lobby have literally ruined the vulnerable section of society. What people will do with their ‘secular thesis’ if it fails to address the distress situation in which a large segment of the population is being forced to live.

Whether post-poll alliances based on some kind of pre-poll adjustments will give birth to a national front to challenge the BJP in the coming parliamentary poll which is going to be held in less than a year, is open to question.o


Vol. 50, No.47, May 27 - June 2, 2018