People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 25, 2004
BJP’s Unwanted Coalition
PRIME Minister Vajpayee confessed that he would like to avoid a multi-party coalition. Addressing a public meeting in Nagpur he said “My worry now is, if we are again saddled with a 22-party coalition ….such a situation is better avoided.”
Probably the venue of the meeting, Nagpur, where the RSS headquarters is situated, emboldened Vajpayee to make this rare admission. It is well known that BJP considers the NDA coalition a matter of political expediency. It dreams of achieving an absolute majority to dispense off the unwanted partners.
Already the last stint of the NDA in government has led to the exodus of eight of the parties who were in the coalition in 1999. As for the remaining, the BJP has shown its disdain for them in the run up to the current elections. Unlike in 1999, the BJP brought out its own manifesto after which the NDA agenda dutifully echoed the key formulations. The Ayodhya issue has been introduced in the NDA agenda as also a legislation to ban cow slaughter. The BJP also included its formulation on Jammu & Kashmir without any reference to Article 370, which the non-BJP partners still claim to uphold.
Faced with Vajpayee’s frank disavowal of the burdens of running a coalition, the response of the Trinamul and the JD(U) has been meek and submissive. The Trinamul leader Pankaj Banerjee has called it “natural and normal”, while Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) mildly asserted that there are less chances of a single party coming to power. However much an embarrassed BJP leadership seeks to downplay Vajpayee’s remarks, it has become crystal clear to the people what the NDA is – the BJP plus a rump of allies who cannot think of any other way but to cling on to the coattails of their patron.