NDA: A force to reckon with
Ashok B Sharma
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is forging a rainbow alliance with Dravidian parties to boost its winning prospects in at least four parliamentary constituencies in Tamil Nadu. The expectations can be more for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state if it can make its way between two formidable forces – the DMK and the AIADMK.
The BJP which has been looked upon as a north India party which needs alliance with local parties to be reckoned as a force in the highly polarised politics of the AIADMK and the DMK. The BJP is eying for prospects in at least four more parliamentary constituencies, i.e., Kanya-kumari, Shivaganga, Coimbatore and South Chennai. The BJP by striking alliances with the DMDK, PMK, MDMK, IJK and KMDK in Tamil Nadu and All India NR Congress in Puducherry has brought them to the NDA fold. These parties have announced to bury their hatchet while joining the BJP-led NDA. But this seems far from over.
In South Chennai, a keen contest is in the offing where the AIADMK, DMK and BJP have put up formidable candidates. AIADMK has fielded Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker’s son, Jayavardhan. BJP has fielded its Former State unit chief, L Ganesan who hails from the Brahmin community which forms a sizeable population in Mylapore Assembly segment. The DMK has fielded its spokesman, TKS Elangovan. Recently, Tamil superstar Rajinikant and BJP's Prime Ministerial met and hoped for a political endorsement. It was in 1996 during the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu that Rajinikant's political power first shone. His one-liner, 'Even God can't save Tamil Nadu, if AIADMK returns to power' swung the votes in favour of the DMK-Tamil Manila Congress combine.
However, the nomination papers of the BJP candidate S Gurumurthy from Niligiris, a reserved constituency, was rejected bringing down to 7 constituencies from where the party is seeking mandate. Similarly, the nomination papers of PMK candidate, Manirathnam from Chidambaram constituency, was rejected. But the nomination papers of wife Sudha, who is the dummy candidate of the party, was found in order. In Chidambaram constituency the pro-dalit outfit and an ally of DMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi is facing the acid test to retain the reserved Lok Sabha seat amid challenge by ruling AIADMK and PMK. One factor that comes to BJP’s rescue is the expulsion of Alagiri from the DMK. Alagiri has considerable influence in the southern part of the State. BJP’s prospects in Kanyakumari constituency can brighten up if Alagiri extends support.
In the Kanyakumari constituency on which BJP is more hopeful, the anti-Kudankulam activist SP Udaya Kumar has entered the fray as AAP candidate. Kumar enjoys considerable influence in coastline villages among fishermen. The constituency has 4.20 per cent Muslims and interestingly the candidates of AIADMK, DMK, CPI (M) and AAP are all Catholic Christians. The Left alliance consisting of CPI and CPI (M) has put up candidates for 18 constituencies.
AAP has fielded candidates in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli. A total of 845 candidates are in the fray for 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, where the battle lines are drawn for April 24 polls. The BJP-led rainbow alliance is hoping its best to emerge as a force to reckon with in the midst of two major bipolar forces – the AIADMK and the DMK.
Dr Ravindra Agrawal
The present general elections are very much different from the polls held in the country so far. It is for the first time that dynastic politics has been challenged in a big way and the dynastic forces are trying hard to save their sinking empire. In the mid of election process itself they have realised that their defeat is inevitable. That’s why Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has appealed to all like minded forces to come together for the sake of secularism.
In the name of secularism, the Congress and its friends—SP, BSP, AAP, TMC and Left parties etc, have started playing dangerous politics of polarisation. These parties are collectively trying to turn Muslim votes in their favour by using highly un-parliamentary language against BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi. They have infused all their force to paint the BJP pro-Hindu and anti-minority. They are also frequently asking why the minorities (read Muslims) are against the BJP. But while raising this question they calculatedly hid the fact what the Muslims felt about the Congress in 1945-46?
It is a well known fact that during the Freedom Struggle, the Congress always claimed itself to be a secular organisation. But the Muslims had no faith in it and in 1945-46 polls for Provincial and Central Assemblies they voted in favour of the Muslim League. In the elections for Central Assembly, the Muslim League got 86.6 per cent Muslim votes and the Congress got 91.3 per cent non-Muslim votes. Finally, the Muslim League won all the 30 Muslim seats, while the Congress won 57 non-Muslim seats with a big margin. In those days, the British Government for its own interest favoured Muslim League and the Congress was considered a Hindu nationalist party.
In the backdrop of the results declared in October 1946, the Congress and Muslim League signed an agreement saying “the Congress accepts that Muslim League represents majority Indian Muslims. In this situation …Muslim League has an undisputed right to represent Indian Muslims…” (vide Sardar Patel: Chuna hua patravyahar-1, ed.-V. Shankar, page136). This agreement was signed by Gandhiji, Nawab of Bhopal and Shvaib Kurashi. Pt Nehru wrote a letter to MA Jinnah on October 6, 1946 clearly mentioning that “ as per the election results, the Congress is ready to accept that Muslim League is an undisputed representative organisation of majority Indian Muslims….” .(Sardar Patel: Chuna hua patravyahar-1, ed. V Shankar, page 138). Can the Congress leadership explain why, in spite of all its efforts, it failed to attract Muslims to its folds then? And why the Congress accepted Muslim League as a representative of majority Muslims and itself as a representative of non-Muslims?
Just compare the situation of pre-Independence Congress and post-Independence BJP. Then British were rulers and now the Congress is. Today the Congress is playing the same dirty role, which was played by the British Government then for petty political gains. Now the Congress is desperate to polarise minority votes in its favour. For it Congress president Sonia Gandhi met Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid and the Imam issued an appeal in favour of Congress. The other ‘secular’ groups are also following the Congress to attract Muslims. What will be the impact of this secular rhetoric on the society at large will be assessed only after the poll outcome, the polling trends of April 10 in Western UP indicate that is proving counter-productive for the entire secular brigade. There are clear indications that discontent is flaring up within Congress and Samajwadi Party, and a number of their leaders as well as workers are assessing the future prospects in other parties especially the BJP.
There should be no surprise if the SP breaks into factions after the poll results. The main reason of it is the failure of MY (Muslim-Yadav) card, the only strength of SP. The Muslims are disillusioned and they are in search of effective alternative. Not only the MY combination, the much talked Jat-Muslim combination and Dalit-Muslim combinations too are in trouble due to the new emerging political trends. The future of JD(U), RJD, RLD and BSP is also at stake. Undisputedly, some new socio-political combinations are emerging today in a big way, because the people want development-oriented politics and surely not the cast or religion-based rhetoric.
(The writer is a senior journalist)
Rejuvenated BJP, fractured Congress
As the electioneering is gaining momentum in Uttarakhand, the desperation in the Congress camp is growing deeper. First the party took unexpectedly much time to finalise candidates and now the candidates are not finding supporters for the campaign. On the other hand the campaigning by BJP candidates surges far ahead their Congress rivals. Former Chief Minister Major General (retd) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri seeks election from Pauri, Rajya Sabha MP Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is contesting from Nainital, while Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’ is in the fray from Hardwar. Sitting MP Smt Mala Rajyalaxmi Shah is seeking re-election from Tehri and Ajay Tamta is in the fray from Almora. Congress leaders like Vijay Bahuguna could not muster enough courage to face angry masses in Tehri, and Satpal Maharaj (when in Congress) in Chamoli. Sitting Congress MP Pradeep Tamta also faces rout at the hustings in Almora constituency. The internecine faction-fighting among the CM Harish Rawat, Vijay Bahuguna, Satpal Maharaj and Harak Singh Rawat has further added fuel to fire, because most of the parliamentary candidates feared back-stabbing and sabotage from rivals, particularly from Harish Rawat himself. When Satpal Maharaj abdicated Congress last month to join BJP, there was no taker for the Pauri seat in Congress Party. Maharaj’s wife and a senior minister in Harish Rawat’s cabinet Amrita Rawat, and another minister Harak Singh Rawat refused one after another, when party general secretary Ambika Soni asked them to contest from Pauri.
Harak Singh agreed half-heartedly to contest against BJP’s stalwart BC Khanduri. Vijay Bahuguna never obliged the party high command; he put up his son Saket Bahuguna instead to run from Tehri. Both Harak Singh Rawat and Vijay Bahuguna sought assurance from the central leadership that the rivals would be kept under tight leash, so that they could not sabotage their elections. Thus, Saket Bahuguna’s poll campaign is strictly a family affair, no party business, like it is for Renuka Rawat, CM Harish Rawat’s highly ambitious wife, in Haridwar who is pitted against BJP’s stalwart Dr Nishank. In Nainital, the sitting MP ‘Baba’, however, faces an unexpected revolt by party stalwart and four-time CM ND Tewari who has been denied ticket by the Congress.
Two days before the general elections began the people of Assam were shocked when they came to know that in a mandatory mock poll at Jorhat, some Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) registered votes in favour of certain political parties irrespective of the button pressed. Even though, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Assam, immediately ordered all EVMs to be thoroughly checked by the manufacturers, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. (ECIL), Hyderabad, the incident has raised serious concerns among the State’s voters of the possibilities of their mandate being hijacked by rigged EVMs. According to the guidelines of the Election Commission after the first mandatory checking of the EVMs are complete five per cent of the machines are randomly selected and used in a mock drill in the presence of all political parties for verification. In the present case 4 EVMs were found to be defective. In one machine every time any button was pressed the vote went to a particular party. Reportedly, in the first phase of the polls on April 7 in Assam at least 92 EVMs malfunctioned or were defective.
In India because of logistic and security concerns the conduct of elections have become a lengthy process. This time the gestation period is about 40 days with the first phase having begun on April 7 and the declaration of results scheduled for the May 16. In the interim period the EVMs will be kept in strong rooms in different district headquarters under strict security vigilance.
In 2011 after the Congress won an overwhelming majority in the Assam Assembly elections, the AGP had lodged a complaint accusing the Congress of tampering with the EVMs. Further in the 2013 Mizoram Assembly elections where the Congress won a landslide victory there were allegations of EVM manipulations.
Despite these aberrations the people of India have time and again reposed their faith in the democratic process. This is evident from the increasingly healthy voting percentages. But unless the ballot box is made secure there are possibilities of some unscrupulous politicians and their accomplices in the administration hijacking the peoples’ mandate for their own advantage.