Our two great epics are all about family quarrels. Father exiles son for the sake of his favourite wife. Krishna has to kill his maternal uncle. Brothers fall apart as Ravana and Vibhishana do, and cousins are quarrelling about land, leading to the Mahabharata war. As they say, the Hindu joint family is indestructible, though it can be self-destructing.
In the heartland of India where these epics played out their stories, we have a replay. Akhilesh Yadav had to demote (rather than slay) his paternal uncle. His father wanted him not to do so. His adviser Amar Singh (Narada or Krishna?) obviously favoured the older uncle over the young heir.
If you head a family-based political party and that too with a joint family spanning three generations, you would be lucky not to have quarrels. But even so, given the long experience of Netaji, the puzzle is, why did he let it fester till a few months before the election? Or has he decided that Akhilesh is not a winner and the baton has to be passed to an older generation?
Either way it must be a birthday gift for the Prime Minister. The BJP has its heart set on winning or at least ruling Uttar Pradesh, singly or in a coalition. The triangle of the Samajwadi Party, BSP and BJP is the battle formation on which Uttar Pradesh’s political future will be decided. There is little prospect of the BSP aligning with the BJP, though it may take the help of the Congress, if the latter wins any seats. The logic always favoured the BJP/SP alliance. If the family quarrel weakens the SP, then the BJP could become the senior partner in a coalition government. If that were to happen, with the PM being an MP from UP, the BJP will consolidate its status as the national party, 24 years after the Babri Masjid.
But good fortune does not come singly, but in abundance. The Mahagathbandhan in Bihar is obviously under great strain. If it was not, then Lalu Prasad would have had no reason to affirm it was alright. As Bismarck said, nothing is true until it is officially denied. The antics of Shahabuddin in and out of court, his belittling of Nitish Kumar and the stern reaction of the CM to his bail tell us that the shelf life of the alliance is short.
Life being the way it is, nothing prevents Nitish Kumar from reviving the old NDA coalition. It worked quite well for eight years. We can then get back to the scenario of those years, with the RJD embracing a weak Congress and the JD(U) aligning with the BJP.
Then there is Delhi, the other scene of Narendra Modi’s setback last year. With Arvind Kejriwal busy in Punjab, and with Goa also on the AAP’s radar, Delhi will realise that it made a mistake. The effect of this will be seen in the 2019 elections.
As of now, it is difficult to see the Lohiaite Janata Party reviving if the SP is with the BJP in UP and the RJD and JD(U) are split. Nor can the AAP hope to lead the Left and Congress after fighting the Congress in Punjab and Goa, not to mention Delhi.
As he turns 66, the Prime Minister can look forward to the job till he retires.