Thanks to Mr. Varun Gandhi things seem to be coming out in the open. Addressing his party workers Mr. Gandhi said that his cousin Rahul contesting from adjacent Amethi had made it a model constituency. This statement shocked many BJP leaders and workers. Such open praise for the Congress party Vice-President was inexplicable. Mr. Gandhi’s subsequent clarification was meaningless. The damage as intended had been done.
Mr. Varun Gandhi’s praise for his cousin needs to be decoded. On the basis of recent developments the following surmise may be considered.
First, Mr. Varun Gandhi is too savvy to say anything that would alienate his voters. Most ordinary Indians would appreciate that he maintains family loyalty. It is only party workers who would be infuriated by his remarks. Secondly, Mr. Gandhi would not have said what he did without approval of BJP President Mr. Rajnath Singh with whom he has excellent rapport. The question is why Mr. Rajnath Singh would have extended tacit endorsement to Mr. Varun Gandhi. The more relevant question should be why would he not?
Have not recent political moves indicated how the top leaders of the Congress and BJP are secretly colluding? Mr. Rajnath Singh stated that he would announce candidates for Rae Bareilly and Amethi only after the Congress announced its candidate for Varanasi. Reading between the lines it seems he was telling the Congress that it must honour its part of some secret deal before the BJP announced its candidates. Well, the respective candidates could not be more convenient for leaders of both parties! The BJP has put up a local lawyer against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareily and not Miss Uma Bharati who might have posed a challenge. Mr. Amit Shah took this decision. The BJP further helped the Dynasty by shifting Mr. Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit to Sultanpur to revive the traditional dynastic triumvirate represented by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. The Congress has yet to declare its candidate against Mr. Modi in Varanasi. Currently it seems to be seeking adjustment with other parties for a common candidate. Lest any dim witted voter did not get the meaning of the move to shift Mr. Varun Gandhi to Sultanpur, the latter by his praise for his cousin and his resolve not to campaign against his aunt or cousin should have removed all confusion.
One need not reiterate the various straws in the wind that suggest a secret understanding between the Congress and BJP. The failure to go for the jugular in corruption cases by both parties is only one indication. In fact the attempt to forge such understanding between both parties has been going on for years but it never got clinched. Many commentators including this writer have advocated such an alliance. After Mr. Advani wrote a letter of apology to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi related to allegations about her foreign bank accounts it was stated in these columns on March 9, 2012:
“There is no serious division between the Congress and BJP regards foreign or economic policies. The combined strength of both parties in parliament would make the emergent government stable and impervious to pressure by its current regional allies. At the present critical time facing the nation the government could function more decisively till it completes its term in 2014.”
Then again, on August 9, 2012 it was pointed out:
“A Congress-BJP alliance is the only quick-fix option to restore stability and a semblance of governance. Neither party could be held hostage to blackmail by smaller regional parties. But to achieve this difficult goal adverse opinion in both parties would have to be overcome. That is what it seems Mr. Advani and Mrs. Gandhi might have been attempting. The ice must be broken for a substantive dialogue. Mr. Advani’s earlier written apology to Mrs. Gandhi over her alleged foreign bank account did not deliver results.”
Now the thread of a future secret understanding seems to have been picked up by leaders of both parties. The conduits for change appear to be Mr. Varun Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi. If the resumption of efforts for a future alliance is indeed under way, as events seem to suggest, the reason is not far to seek. Despite all the hype about a pro-Modi wave both parties might have privately concluded that poll results will throw up a hung parliament. In that event a coalition government would emerge. That would not please the powers that be. Mr. Modi recently stated that he wanted over 300 MPs for a strong government which the rest of the world would listen to with respect. Well, the Congress and BJP together with a few more responsible regional parties like the Akali Dal might well throw up that figure for a coalition government promising greater stability than coalition governments of the past. A Congress-BJP alliance would likely ensure that. As I have written earlier, such a government if it were to emerge would be a bad government but nevertheless an improvement over the present situation in which there is virtually no government. It would give the nation a respite during which a genuine alternative could emerge from among the opposition.
There is no saying how events shape up. But if a post-poll coalition on these lines does emerge, who would lead it? Ah, but that is another story!