(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
As we celebrate Republic Day, news has come that opposition I.N.D.I.A Alliance is crashing due to internal problems. There is a famous proverb which says: “the Road to hell is paved with good intentions “. It means that a man is full of good intentions. But in reality, he will not implement his good intentions. You resolve daily to do exercise and lead a healthy life. But in reality, you will not implement your good intentions. The same thing goes for politics. INDIA Alliance was started in July 2023 with great intentions. The Congress said it will be different from the old UPA Congress Alliance and will work humbly with all leaders and make sacrifices. Congress also said that it will not claim the Prime minister face for Rahul Gandhi. So, like a new marriage, everyone was well-behaved for a month. Then after that, the real faces emerged, and problems started accumulating and there was no one in Congress to solve them.
Key players: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is a senior most politician and laid the foundation to form I.N.D.I.A Alliance. He brought together Mamata Banerjee, Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav and others to work with the Congress. Nitish Kumar is responsible for I.N.D.I.A Alliance. Famous Mamata Banerjee is not a dynast like Stalin, Tejaswi Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Uddhav Thackeray and Rahul Gandhi. Mamata said she will work with Congress, if Congress will agree to “allow regional parties to totally dominate the states where they are powerful. That meant in Bengal Mamata dominates, in Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav and in Delhi and Punjab, Arvind Kejriwal is the boss. Arvind Kejriwal is a phenomenal politician and his party rules Delhi and Punjab, by ousting Congress from there. Kejriwal is under constant attack by BJP. He finally decided to ally with Congress to face BJP. Akhilesh Yadav is the top Opposition leader in Uttar Pradesh. He is fully aware that Congress has no votes in Uttar Pradesh and won only 1 MP out of 80 in 2019. Akhilesh wants Congress to play a very small role in UP.
Congress and Rahul Gandhi: Rahul Gandhi was Prime minister face of opposition in 2014 and 2019 and was an utter flop. Yet, Rahul has not given up his political ambitions. He launched Bharat Jodo yatra. But there were no convincing results. Rahul knew there must be opposition unity to face BJP. So, Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress President was the proxy of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul felt that after elections Mallikarjun Kharge will step aside and he will become prime Minister.
Problems created by Congress:
a. Congress should have made Nitish Kumar the chairman of India Alliance. Then Nitish would have stayed with India Alliance. But Congress knew that Nitish Kumar will then become Prime Minister face.
b. Mamata Banerjee, Kejriwal and Akhilesh knew that Rahul Gandhi must be stopped. So, they announced the name of Mallikarjun Kharge as prime minister face and Congress was shocked.
c. Rahul started his new Bharat yatra. Yet, Congress did not involve the India alliance partners. This has created suspicions that Rahul wanted to grow at their expense in Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
d. When Nitish Kumar realized he was cleverly sidelined by Congress, he felt there is no point for him in being in India Alliance. Nitish may even leave the opposition and Bihar government which will be a disaster for Congress.
e. Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal told Congress that if you want MP seats in Delhi, Bengal and Punjab, which are their strongholds, then hi and Punjab, which are their strongholds, then Congress must allot Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee MP seats in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Assam, Goa and Meghalaya, which are Congress strongholds. Congress refused thus far. But due to threats, Congress may surrender to Mamata and Kejriwal. Who is to blame for India Alliance crashing? Congress party has the most brains and history of all political parties. But the present Congress is now being led by a few southern leaders and Rahul Gandhi. No Congress outside Kerala and Karnataka has any voice. North Indian leaders are questions wisdom of boycotting Ram Mandir function. The India Alliance was a magical alliance since long term enemies of Rahul Gandhi like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal have joined Congress alliance. Yet, Congress could not sustain the India Alliance. If Nitish Kumar leaves, then India Alliance would be an empty house.
Future of I.N.D.I.A alliance: Congress should agree to whatever Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal demand. Congress should also replace Mallikarjun Kharge with Nitish Kumar immediately and also announce that Rahul Gandhi will not accept Prime minister post after election. As Akhilesh Yadav has demanded, “Immediately declare Nitish Kumar as prime M8inister face of India Alliance” Congress has dozens of ex- Chief Ministers like Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Bhupendra Hooda and A.K. Antony. Congress should bring such leaders into leadership positions. In Rahul Gandhi’s present circle, there is not one ex- Chief minster or a leader with mass base or experience. If Nitish Kumar leaves I.N.D.I.A Alliance, it will also impact Telangana and Karnataka since it will send a message that Narendra Modi will become Prime Minister for the third time. My favorite quotation is what former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said 60 years ago: “A week is a long time in politics “. Now I find even a day is too long in politics.
(Author is a Political and Economic Analyst based at New Delhi)