Stability of India’s Coalition Politics is a Distant Dream

Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) recently dissolved the state assembly and called for early polls in the state. KCR, as Rao is popularly known, said that there was political fragility within the state and the opposition parties, especially the Congress, had made serious allegations against him and his government. He further said that these opposition parties were “discouraging and demoralising the government” on the path towards development.

Political analysts have opined that one of the main reasons of KCR calling early polls is because he is wary of the growing proximity between the Congress and the Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party (TDP). They were spot on. After the incumbent government was dissolved, the Congress, TDP, and the Communist Party of India (CPI) joined hands to contest the elections. They alleged that KCR’s “illegal” conduct was helping the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) cause in the state polls. They further have demanded governor’s rule in the state.

The Congress-TDP-CPI coalition will be seen as a precursor to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or a grand-coalition of all opposition parties is expected to fight the Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Parties like Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC), Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party (SP), Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), HD Kumaraswamy led Janata Dal (Secular), the Left, among few others are in talks with the Congress to form this grand-coalition to counter the BJP. However, the success of this ‘Mahagathbandhan’ is a distant dream even if it is voted to power.

The two primary reasons for the same are the lack of an agreeable prime ministerial candidate and conflict in seat-sharing.

Every leader of the parties in the grand coalition harbours prime ministerial ambitions. In the past Mamata Banerjee has expressed her desire to lead the country’s government. Like Banerjee, Mayawati, on a number of occasions in the past, has said that she would do well as the prime minister. Top leaders of the possible grand-coalition like Sharad Pawar of NCP and HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular) have said that they support the idea of a women leading the grand-coalition and if a man could become the prime minister of the country, so could the women. However, Sharad Pawar, in the past, like Banerjee and Mayawati, has expressed his desires to become the PM and there is little to suggest that he won’t do the same if the grand-coalition wins. The same can be said about Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president. If Congress calls the shots in the grand-coalition, Sonia Gandhi would want her son to occupy 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, despite him having stressed on collective leadership. If the grand-coalition does zero in on a woman leader becoming the PM, the next question will be who will occupy the top-spot. If the TMC wins a majority of seats in West Bengal (42), then the way ahead for Mamata Banerjee will be pretty clear since out of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, SP and BSP will ink a fifty-fifty deal. However, if the BSP and TMC win equal number of seats in their states, the same conflict will arise again. Hence, there is quite some work the grand-coalition will have to put in to figure out their prime ministerial candidate.

In all probabilities, finalising the prime ministerial candidate will be the grand-coalition’s headache only post the results. Prior to that, the coalition needs to finalise their seat-sharing numbers. A perfect seat-sharing formula, where a united opposition fields the right candidate in competition to the BJP and its allied candidates and, those with whom the voters identify will further their outreach to that particular constituency and boost their chances. However, like choosing the PM candidate, this won’t be an easy task. For instance, consider UP. If the SP and BSP do come together in Uttar Pradesh, finding the perfect seat-sharing equation is going to be no easy job. These parties have traditionally been at loggerheads with one another. They certainly will field candidates in seats where their respective population presence is high. For instance, the SP will field more candidates in Yadav-dominated regions and the BSP will field candidates in Dalit-dominated areas. However, such regions where population homogeneity exists are few. A significant number of regions have mixed population and have voted differently in different elections. Finding the perfect seat-sharing formula in such seats and in the state at large for both the BSP and SP is going to be a challenge. The same is true for the Congress and NCP in Maharashtra, the Congress and JD(S) in Karnataka (since the Congress won more seats in Karnataka in the Assembly polls of 2018), the Left and TMC in West Bengal, among others. The ‘Mahagathbandhan’ will have to iron out their seat-sharing formula if they hope to challenge BJP.

Figuring out the perfect coalition formula in Telangana for the Congress-TDP-Left combine won’t be that difficult. However, it is a different ball game in national politics and if the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ doesn’t nail in every point right, it is a game they will lose.

Picture Credits : oneindia.com

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