Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019

Modi’s Coalition Phobia

NOT a day passes in this election campaign without Narendra Modi attacking the mahagatbandhan or opposition alliance as a `mahamilavat’ (great adulteration) and depicting them as a bunch of power hungry opportunists. 

From the start of the campaign, a constant theme in Modi’s speeches has been how a mahamilavat government would jeopardise development; it will be a weak government which cannot ensure national security; and how the opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh and other places is just an unprincipled and opportunist getting together to grab power for the personal interest of leaders. 

Such a persistent attack on opposition alliance reveals the real phobia that Modi harbors about the prospects of a coalition government replacing his rule. 

Coalition governments have been the norm, bar some exceptions, since 1977. Contrary to what Modi depicts, coalition governments have provided stable governments and their record on “development” is not very different from other governments which have all been within the framework of capitalist development. In fact, the Vajpayee-led coalition government of 1999-2004 was held up by the BJP as a model of “shining India”.

Unlike what Modi claims, there is no reason to believe that a post-poll alliance based on a common minimum programme cannot form the basis of a stable government.  This is what happened after the 2004 elections when the UPA was formed and a common minimum programme was adopted.  This is the experience of the BJP too.  In 1998 and 1999, the BJP framed an agenda for government after the elections to underpin a post-poll tie-up, the National Democratic Alliance.  The BJP at that time had set aside its three core demands of removal of Article 370, building of Ram temple and a Uniform Civil Code to facilitate such a coalition government. For Modi to now denounce such coalition governments is to condemn his own party’s coalition governments. 

It is also absurd for Modi to accuse the `mahamilavat gang’ while in government, for a surge in Maoist activities and to claim that these were quelled through effective security operations after his government came to power.  This falsehood of Modi has been exposed during the current election campaign itself when 15 security men were killed in a Maoist attack in Gadchiroli district and a BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed when their car was blasted by an improvised explosive device in Dantewada, Chattisgarh.

We have seen how the “unadulterated” Modi government has worsened the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir where the number of terrorist attacks increased from 109 to 626 between 2014 and 2019 and the number of security personnel killed increased from 130 to 483.

So the issue is not whether there is a government with a single party majority or a coalition government. It is a question of what policies and programmes are pursued by the government. 

After all, it was a decisive government which had the BJP with a majority in the Lok Sabha that imposed the draconian policy of demonetisation. No one has been held accountable for this disastrous step.

The mahagatbandhan comprising the SP-BSP-RLD parties is the main target of Modi, as this alliance threatens to inflict a decisive defeat on the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. But in his enthusiasm to attack opposition alliances, Modi forgets that the NDA consists of 40 parties – a mahagatbandhan if there is one.

What Modi is seeking to exorcise is the spectre of a post-poll alliance which can form a secular coalition government at the centre.  Such a government would be formed on the basis of a common minimum programme adopted by all the constituent parties of the coalition.  What Modi exhibits through his rant against coalitions is the fear that such a coalition will replace him. 

(May 14, 2019)