April 05, 2020
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Bull's Eye

What will happen after the assembly polls? This column is being written before the election results. It will be read after the results. Forecasts therefore ...

Bull's Eye
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What will happen after the assembly polls? This column is being written before the election results. It will be read after the results. Forecasts therefore are reckless. Nevertheless, here goes.

The PM made two significant statements during the poll campaign. He said that his efforts for a solution to the Ayodhya dispute had failed. It must be resolved by the court's verdict. This is what Muslim leaders had accepted and vhp leaders resisted. Secondly, the PM said that poll results would not affect the stability of the central government. Nevertheless, the results could dramatically alter power equations in national politics. Let's see how.

Uttar Pradesh will return a hung assembly. The Congress could be slaughtered. The bjp could be mauled. During the campaign, the bjp did not categorically promote or reject the temple issue. Vajpayee spoke with one voice, vhp with another. bjp spokesmen hummed and hawed in the middle. After it happens, this dual approach will be seized by both factions to explain the bjp's defeat. Each will blame the other for not accepting its own agenda. That's not all. The next CM most likely will be non-bjp. Even on the remote chance that the bjp is part of the new government, could it prevent central ministers from being chargesheeted by the special court hearing the Babri case? If so, its new coalition partners would face revolt within their own ranks. If not, Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharati would be chargesheeted and forced to quit Vajpayee's cabinet.

If despite the chargesheets the PM retains them, there would be countrywide agitations. If the new CM refuses to allow their prosecution, there would be statewide agitations. Realignment therefore seems inevitable. Paradoxically, the bjp's defeat might strengthen the PM's position.

The Congress' drubbing in UP will be compensated for by its victory in Punjab. But a word of caution. The victory could be more slender than the exit polls predict. And in spite of its majority, within months the Congress could be frustrated by dissension and a split. If the Congress does form a lasting government, Govinda can safely quit films and join Sonia's party. If, in spite of victory the Congress is robbed of a government, Sonia might as well quit politics and join Govinda's films. She is so adept at reading scripts that she seems halfway there already.

When I look into my crystal ball,
Every party takes a fall!
So ring out the old, ring in the new,
A major change is overdue!

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