The Bachelors' Party

Post date: May 21, 2012 1:11:39 AM

By: A. Chattopadhyay

This is not the first time bachelors have drawn attention in Indian politics. Who can deny that the very first concept of a united Indian nationhood was conceived by a bachelor academician Chanakya? Sixteen years after independence, the way K Kamaraj stormed into the eye of national whirlpool with his revival plan for Congress, is still a buzz among Lutyen's pundits. Though his 'back-to-grassroot' approach was perceived too austere by many, to many others he turned out to be an overnight savior of Congress amidst its decadent glory. Interestingly, it took less than five years for socialist (best read, samajwadi!) guru Ram Manohar Lohia to prove in Uttar Pradesh that ‘Kamarajerie’,actually, did not work for Congress. Further, does post-Nehru rise of Jana Sangh troika, Deen Dayal – Vajpayee – Nanaji Deshmukh suggest us something? Or even pseudo-political Anna Hazare and Ramdev among today's anashani cults? Bachelors are bachelors.

Bee-buzzing started again when Deccan Doyenne Jayalalitha called in evergreen Naveen Patnaik and progress's posterboy Narendra Modi at Chennai. Surely the official agenda was to formulate a collaborative strategy against National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) bill, but was it limited to that? It would be foolish to believe that three of the four most popular non-Congress Chieftains of current era just met to confirm their stands on a bill. On ground, their arguments in unison against present form of NCTC created a unique scene, unforeseen except the times of formation of United Front and NDA. Mutual Modi-Jaya-Naveen synergy, Jaya being the fulcrum, over and above NCTC could not escape people's eyes. Jaya surprised many by inviting “good friend” Modi in her swearing ceremony. Few days back, at Poes Garden residence she termed Naveen as her “brother” as they "think alike”. ADMK's brotherhood with Patnaiks is nothing newfound. Biju Patnaik who had close bond with late ADMK supremo MG Ramachandran once mediated in a merger with DMK's Karunanidhi. Patnaik negotiated with Karunanidhi on MGR's behalf; brought them to Cheepauk Guest House to formalize the reunion but, as claimed by Karunanidhi himself, P Ramachnadran marred it all. Jaya perhaps thanks P Ramachandran now for that day but does still hail Biju Patnaik as “fatherly figure”. Some may say, personal friendship does play little role in political alignments. Not wrong but, in turbulent Janata period, it did miracles too. Biju Patnaik was known to be an amalgamator between groups ideologically apart. During his captive days in Rohtak Jail, he glued trust among Sikander Bakht from Congress(O), socialist Samar Guha and Madhu Dandavate, Chandra Sekhar from a Congress rebel faction, Piloo Mody from Bharaitya Lok Dal, Jaipal Singh from CPIM, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, L K Advani, K R Malkani from Jan Sangh. It is said, this was the first round-table of non-Congress leaders that took place in Rohtak Jail and eventually led to the first fall of Congress government in Center. For Naveen, being confined to a province does not do justice to the magical stature of his late father. I believe, he has realized that it is time for him to replay.

Naveen Patnaik, except some minor initial differences like that over carving East Coast Railway, has always maintained political symbiosis with Mamata Banerjee, the other most popular leader from the East. From their NDA alliance in past till present days of partnership on NCTC and Central Sales Tax (CST), he reiterated his admiration for Mamata in public.

In West Bengal, there is hardly a scope left for a debate between Congress and Trinamool on who needs whom. Ballot has not empowered anyone else like the machinery of “Maa-Mati-Manush”. Mamata Banerjee, like any Chief Minister, needs to remain engaged with Delhi but assembly result of 2011 has exposed that after Siddhartha babu, Mamata stands for whatever anti-CPIM and anti-CPIM means Mamata only. Her discontentment over Congress cozying up with communists in UPA-1 was never concealed. And she is unsure if her ally can afford to avoid it in 2013-14 Lok Sabha again. But that will indeed dilute her anti-CPIM credentials in 2016. Frequent watermarks of her strained dialogue with Congress state unit as well as the government at Center signify a transition of Didi from a fiery street leader of Bengal to an architect of a potential national alternative.

We have witnessed how Mamata fought against Central cabinet on NCTC, retail FDI, CST and petrol price hike from within. Analysts also believe, it is highly probable that she ends up supporting a candidate of parallel consensuality in Presidential poll. She, therefore, solidifies this provincial axis of powers. One can name it as Jaya-Naveen-Modi-Mamata or any alphabet soup in making. I prefer to name it as the Bachelors' Party, much impressed by the Tea Party movement of the US. And the party has begun; let us wait for crackers. Let us not diminish this phenomenon terming it a 'Satrapization' of Indian politics. If parivartan awaits us, it will not drop on Ramlila or JantarMantar but with this true political representation of provinces. We are a nation because we are provinces.

Photo Credit: PTI/ the Hindu