Antony throws weight behind coalition politics
By Santwana Bhattacharya | ENS - JAIPUR
19th January 2013 07:42 AM
Coalition politics is here to stay. It’s quite unlike Pachmarhi in 1998, where the Congress still hoped to slug it out alone and regain past glory. By 2013, in Japiur, the party is accepting political coalitions as an unavoidable ‘reality’ and the only way it can hope to retain power in 2014.
The A K Antony-authored ‘Political Challenges’ draft report -- on which there was a closed-door discussion at the ‘Chintan Shivir’ on Friday -- has five pointers. But the most crucial among them, on which there was little dispute, except from among the local leaders of West Bengal and Bihar, was that ‘coalition is a reality’.
A strong opponent of West Bengal Chief Minister and Tinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, Minister of State Deepa Dasmunshi, however, spoke strongly about coalition politics destroying the Congress base and vote-bank in the states.
In fact, the party seemed keen to increase its net-worthiness by garnering a few more allies -- before or after parliamentary elections. The cover being offered is broad enough: that the Congress is “willing to get into alliance with like-minded parties’’.
The brainstorming session for which the entire top brass in party and government have descended on Jaipur is aimed at evolving a ‘war strategy’ for 2014. So, Antony’s political thesis revolves around that one key issue: how to face the next general elections.
For facing that big test ahead, sources said, Antony has advocated better synchronisation between party and government. While the party would unequivocally back the government on its less popular steps -- such as bringing FDI in retail, diesel deregulation or raising the price of cooking gas, diesel and railway tickets -- it would want the Manmohan Singh Government to deliver the Food Security Bill and Direct Benefit Transfer without a glitch.
The Antony draft also addresses one of the biggest worries of the Congress -- the growing disconnect with the urban middle-class. In what seems to be a course correction of sorts, the political draft admits that the party needs to make itself a viable proposition in urban India.
“It is a fact that the population in the urban and the semi-urban areas are increasing due to migration and they cannot be ignored anymore,’’ a senior Congress leader who took part in the political discussions admitted. Antony has also highlighted that what he fears is the segmentation of political demands and the polity. With regional pulls and local issues getting precedence, the Congress draft admits there is no more any cohesive, monolithic issue that can be addressed to win elections.
What is worse, the sum total of the fractured political demands does not seem to add up to a whole. Threat, therefore, is more from the regional parties than any monolithic national political outfit.
■ For the 2014 test, Antony advocated better synchronisation between party and government
■ The increasing urban population cannot be
■ The sum total of the fractured demands does not seem to add up to a whole. Threat in 2014 polls is more from
regional parties than any national political outfit
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