India’s next General Elections in 2014 just about two years plus away should have stirred up the Indian political landscape with hectic activity and dynamism. This specially applies to the main Opposition party, the BJP, which has heaven sent opportunities with the ruling Congress Party mired in mega-corruption scams, a faltering economic situation with galloping inflation and a public perception that the Congress Party has squandered the electoral mandate of the last elections. India’s political landscape however projects an insipid and uninspiring picture with both the two main political parties betraying uncertain directions in terms of prospective political leadership, political cohesion and coalition unity.
In terms of who will lead the Congress Party and the BJP in the next elections, both the political parties shy away from firmly naming as to who will be their chosen Prime Minister should either party win the elections.
As far as the Congress Party is concerned it is an open secret that Rahul Gandhi is the anointed heir to replace Dr Man Mohan Singh. However in a carefully choreographed script the Indian public is being led to believe that Rahul Gandhi is a “Reluctant Prince’ to assume the Prime Ministerial responsibility and that he is more interested in building up the Congress’s organizations.
When it comes to Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, the Congress Party seems to be in a dilemma. If the Congress Party fares badly in 2014 General Elections under his leadership because of the corruption and scams baggage, then the blame would be squarely laid on him. If Rahul Gandhi is not projected as the next Prime Minister then he would have to wait till 2019 to try his luck. That is a long time in politics.
The BJP has a more complex problem in that it has a large number of Prime Ministerial contenders from L K Advani to Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi as a much younger BJP political leader with a proven record of political dynamism and political leadership has to contend also with Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.
Both the main political parties are presently hesitant to designate their Prime Ministerial candidates using the fig leaf that this would be decided after winning the elections. This is odd as no elections have ever been fought without designating their prospective Prime Ministers.
In terms of political cohesion there is little to differentiate between the two parties. Both suffer from infighting, internal dissensions in their upper echelons however both may be dismissive of the fact. Many a time this has been spelt out in the public domain.
In terms of coalition unity amongst their respective coalition partners, the Congress Party as the ruling party suffers more visibly on this count. With runaway inflation in foodstuffs and steep raises in petrol prices, the coalition partners who have to safeguard their respective constituencies in their respective States have been vocally critical of the Government. This has led to open political spats.
While the Prime Minister may not have yielded on their demands the cumulative costs in the run-up to the 2014 Elections would be heavy for the Congress Party.
Some may argue that there is still quite some time for the2014 General Elections, the political landscape would acquire more discernible contours closer to the Elections, it is equally true that the reluctance of the main political parties betrays uncertain directions and a lack of political confidence prompting them to adopt political hedging strategies.