The General Election, 2009 for the 15th Lok Sabha is for all practical purposes behind us. Nearly 2/3 of the seats have been covered in three phases and the final lists of candidates for the next two have been released. As D. Day approaches, the prospects become clear both for the politics of the nation and the situation of the Muslim community.
It can now be taken that no single party will come anywhere close to the magic figure of 272 to form the government on its own. We shall witness a long drawn-out power play in which the two major parties seek the support of the minor ones, in the process, poaching on the territory of the rival. Still it is doubtful whether INC or the BJP trying their best shall succeed to establish the support base of the former UPA or NDA. Also they can not be sure of the loyalty of their old friends who have in the meantime defected to the other side or are prepared to return. In this game the INC has a built in advantage. Despite the bitterness generated by the row over the US nuclear deal, the left, along with the Third Front which it has crafted after it withdrew its support from the INC, has no option but to rejoin or extend its support to the INC from the outside. It may raise the price tag in the form of an ideologically tougher Common Minimum Programme, or a bigger share of patronage that goes with power. The only incompatible factors will be the DMK which may now be forced to cede its place to the AIDMK, which after joining the Third Front stands consecrated as secular, and the TMC which may not feel happy about the Congress and the Left coming together. In addition how the INC satisfies the diverse demands or expectations of its old and new allies particularly the BJD, the JD(S) and the AIDMK, remains to be seen.
What is important is the fact that the political scenario is dominated by small and regional parties and their petty games and the common man stands, isolated even forgotten, in a corner.
It has been said that all is fair in love and war, and now in politics. Therefore we should refrain from applying any moral or ethical standards to the behaviour of the political parties. The fact is that the General Elections 2009 has been singularly devoid of national issues or ideological clarity and deficient even in presenting competing visions of the future. Unencumbered by ideological baggage the parties will gladly jettison what remains of it, if the situation so demands. This applies to secular values, even humanitarian aspects. In electoral politics no party has felt any hesitation or shown any embarrassment in embracing old foes or fielding as candidates controversial persons who have been denied tickets on the bases of caste or ethnicity by their old parties. Winnability is compatibility. So we should not look too closely at the ideological contours of the government which finally takes shape.
There have no doubt been verbal give-and-take on petty issues, perhaps to amuse the common voters or to gain brownie points. There have also been charges and counter charges dug up from past, also some turbulence arising from internal rifts. Realism now demands that both the major players will allow themselves to set anchor and not to drift away into uncharted waters to jeopardize their opportunity.