There seem few enduring faultlines in politics,as allies break up and come together again
With the Congress in Tamil Nadu helping Kanimozhi win a second election to the Rajya Sabha,the estranged allies,Congress and DMK,may be drawing closer again. Its an arresting tableau,given the Congresss efforts in the recent past to project the entire responsibility for the 2G scam on to the DMK. Kanimozhi herself was in custody for over six months,persistently denied bail. Her father and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi,ever pragmatic,did not immediately sever the relationship,but the party finally walked out of the UPA in March,citing disagreement over the Sri Lanka resolution. The apparent rapprochement over Kanimozhis election now may give the Congress some crucial numerical support in the monsoon session. Given the unmistakable signs that the AIADMK and the Modi-led BJP are each others preferred option,the Congress and DMK might even arrive at a new partnership,before or after the Lok Sabha election. The zigs and zags of the Congress-DMK relationship illustrate the fluidity of Indias coalition politics,no matter what definitive claims parties might make at decisive moments.
Of course,this story is not new. The SP and the Congress also have a relationship of mutual convenience for all their bitter rivalry in UP,they lean on each other at key moments. The BJP and JD(U),long-term partners,just broke their relationship over Narendra Modis ascension,yet BJP president Rajnath Singh has hinted that a post-poll alliance is a possibility. The JD(U) and Congress have also softened towards each other,despite Nitish Kumars supposedly anti-Congress political DNA. Ahead of the general election,then,the political field appears to present dizzying choices and a question. Is all the hectic activity confined to small and convenient transactions between players,rather than becoming a dramatic confrontation over ideas?
The outcome in 2014 could well depend on small shifts in voteshares and alliances. After the Mandir and Mandal mobilisations in the 1990s,which reinvigorated politics,created new ideological poles and threw up new constellations of leaders,there has been no great political churning. On economic reform,for instance,despite the high-decibel squalling,there is unspoken unanimity among political parties,barring the Left,though the emphases may differ. For smaller players,economic and social philosophy is not the basis for ruptures in political relationships. There is talk of Modis polarising effect,be it the extra large wave that some predict in his favour,or the dramatic alienation of voters and allies that others claim to foresee. This election could test whether a national mandate reflects an encompassing verdict for or against a specific kind of politics and governance,or if it is merely the sum of many moving parts.