A sadist is a person who is kind to a masochist. Given the intense desire of Mr Arvind Kejriwal to give up office at almost any cost, it would be justly cruel for the BJP and Congress to deny him the pleasure of quitting. As an agitational (misleadingly labelling himself an anarchist) leader, Kejriwal has to invent a new fight every day because he fears that if he pauses to think, his followers may suspect that he has sold out. Like the many splinter groups of the old Left, the Aam Aadmi Party has to denounce some new entity each day, promise a permanent revolution and seek martyrdom.
Kejriwal is, however, a clever strategist. This is a well-thought-out scheme to stay in the news, be the conversation and extend the appeal of the party nationwide. Delhi was his stomping ground, but it rewarded him so well that he does not need it any longer.
His aim is the Lok Sabha, where his party is hoping to score high and, as Yogendra Yadav said, he could be the prime minister designate. Thus he will use Delhi for his martyrdom, so he can be born again as an all-India leader. But only if the Congress or BJP let him.
The political climate is getting murkier than the circumstances require. The hegemonic elite, which has controlled the generation and dissemination of ideas for the last few decades, has been shocked by the continued popularity of NaMo. It is not supposed to happen. It must be, they say, the corporate powers or some conspiracy. So they read the tea leaves again and again and hope it won’t happen. Hence, the hectic activity on the Third Front. Each turn of the kaleidoscope reveals a new combination to deny the BJP its chance to form the government.
There is Amma who sees a chance for herself if she wins 35 seats in Tamil Nadu. So Jayalalithaa has roped in the CPM and CPI, who are eternal bridesmaids joining each wedding with the hope that some day they may catch the bouquet.
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Then there is Didi, who also fancies her chances as the leader of a non-Congress, non-BJP, non-Left Third Front. Mamata Banerjee hopes to win around 35 seats in West Bengal and register her claim as the PM designate of a Third Front.
Then there is Behenji, who wants to be at Red Fort on August 15, 2014, as the first Dalit PM. Mayawati could get close to 40 seats in Uttar Pradesh if she reaps the fruits of the crass behaviour of the Samajwadi Party, which abandoned its Muslim vote for the Hindu vote bank. Thus, each turn of the kaleidoscope gives you a new PM hopeful.
Add Kejriwal to this, who must also dream of winning seats in the same sort of numbers, say 30-40.
There is also Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) who has a dream of being PM, as do Sharad Pawar and Nitish Kumar. And Naveen Patnaik as well. The last four can only secure in their region 20 at most. So their ambition depends upon the kaleidoscope taking some peculiar turn.
The problem is that even if all these hopefuls realise their dream numbers, they are unlikely to collaborate to form a Third Front. As the Americans say, “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians!” Let us speculate about the outcomes. In 1999 and 2004, the BJP and Congress together failed to win 300 seats. In 2009, the Congress surprised everyone by crossing 200 on its own and the two party total went above 300.
This time, the Congress is unlikely to get even 100 seats and would most likely settle for 80. The BJP, however, is hoping for 230 plus. The argument made against this is that the BJP has no presence in many parts of India and hence there are no seats for it to secure a large number.
This argument was made last time when experts told us on the morning of the vote count that there were no seats for the Congress to be able to cross 175. Instead, it was a landslide.
This time again, I sense that there will be a clear winner. Sorry Amma, Didi, Behenji.