So, Sharad Pawar has already come to a conclusion and aired his view: neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party can for a government on their own, come 2014. And he thinks Narendra Modi has already peaked, and Rahul Gandhi’s worth is only his dynastic DNA.
According to him, either of the two mainline parties, mainline because they are the biggest by numbers with wider spread across states, would need crutches to form a government and stay in power.
He has told The Indian Express, "In coalition politics, the PM candidate should be such, who has acceptability among regional parties. And here, my view is that the important factors post-Lok Sabha elections will be Mamata, Naveen, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati, Nitish and Jayalalithaa.”
He has identified as many as six political parties who would be the most probable crutch-providers: the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United) and the AIADMK.
This is where it gets interesting.
According to his lights, it is not the political party, either the BJP or the Congress and their ideologies, such as they are, or whatever they are, but the candidate who would lead either of them would ultimately count.
It suddenly becomes so person specific, one has to weigh Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi. Or someone vs someone else after the votes versus is counted.
Narendra Modi is already shepherding the BJP, and at this point of time, appears to be the most probable person though there are some fears about his leading the coalition, either as Prime Minister or Leader of Opposition. The intra-BJP fear and among at least Janata Dal (U), he is not acceptable as either.
On the Congress side, we still don’t know if Rahul would lead the election campaign for his party, but Pawar has already discounted his viability. If he is the leader, it would be because he is a scion of the longest running dynasty. There is no other qualification.
He has said, "I have no personal knowledge about his (Rahul Gandhi’s) abilities. But from the family background he comes, he definitely gets comparatively better knowledge and assessments of various situations. But I have had no association or knowledge."
In short, he is still a gamble, for Pawar is indeed a good judge of political men. If being a leader of key — if not large — ally of the Congress in the UPA I and UPA II, he has "no association" with Rahul Gandhi, it means he is still a person on probation even for a putative leader.
In short, Rahul Gandhi is only family jewel for the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and even for the Congress. The UPA II partners may have reservations about him. Those who oppose Modi are known. Those who support Rahul Gandhi outside Congress and outside UPA II are as yet quiet.
When elections were as close in 2004 as it is now in 2013, Sharad Pawar had been emphatic about Manmohan Singh’s suitability for the big job, regardless of whether the Congress came to power on its own – which he felt it would not – or a coalition government was the country’s fate.
That was much before, in fact even before pre-poll talks had started between political parties and long before Sonia Gandhi had heard her "inner voice" and Manmohan Singh was given her proxy with conditions attached: do everything at my pleasure.
This time, there is no such asserted choice. Not even when Rahul Gandhi is presumed qualified for prime ministership. Hasn’t Manmohan Singh himself already said that the young politician was capable of easily sliding into his shoes? His former favourite’s favourite is now not Pawar’s.
Interestingly, Sharad Pawar, who once said even a small party come to lead the government, what with Devegowda having done so in the past, has not made a mention of any alternative leader for the UPA III. Of course, he has not spoken of Manmohan Singh on whom no one now seems to want to bet.
Pawar has chosen his list of parties with care. He has ignored the Communist (Marxists) and the Communist Party of India. The former does not appear to have a chance to win even enough numbers to be of marginal use to the UPA III. CPI is more or less nominal, a party more seen in the television studios.
Telugu Desam is poorly placed in Andhra Pradesh where confusion persists about how that state would be divided. There is a talk of trifurcation — Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema and a red herring of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Vishakapatnam being appended to Telangana.
Telugu Desam has lost traction and does not seem to know which way to turn. YSR Congress seems better placed without anyone certain about its options. AIADMK had done business with BJP earlier, and so has Trinamool. They, individually — or in some combination perhaps — have been cited as the props for either of the two mainline parties.
The simple deduction from the Pawar averments is that there would be post-poll jostling and bargains within the two broad alignments and who is offered as leader of the Congress and the BJP would determine the new formation. In short: a toss-up.
Updated Date: Aug 26, 2013 10:09 AM