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Do ‘shows’ suffice?

Editorial |

The operative word in the caption is ‘show’. Admittedly, in contemporary political practice there is an overdose of PR, exhibitionism and sloganeering: by those standards, it was a mini-coup staged at the majestic Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.

Not just the massing of a galaxy of non-BJP political leaders from across a vast swathe of the nation, but the bonhomie they exuded ~ some of them had hardly been on speaking terms before the Governor of Karnataka provided the political magnet to bring them on a common platform.

Clearly, the inflicting of the first major electoral defeat the BJP has suffered since the Modi-Shah bandwagon began to roll has given those leaders ~ many of them have hitherto boasted only regional credentials ~ an injection of hope and adrenalin.

And the swearing-in of HD Kumaraswamy and G Parmeshwara rivaled last Saturday’s Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle in terms of spectacle. Yet while it would be churlish to query if Harry and Meghan would “go the distance”, it would be realistic, and legitimate to speculate on whether the Vidhana Souha would be the rostrum on which an anti-BJP “front” could be forged for 2019.

Maybe as a trial that show of strength could be converted into one-on-one contests in the upcoming Assembly elections: the BJP’s counter-punch would be equally revealing.

Yet, if the theory that “the beginning of all things is small” is to kick-in, there are more than creases to be ironed out in Bengaluru for the opportunistic alliance to click ~ that both the Congress and JD (S) had their MLAs sequestered even when there was much back-patting at Vidhana Soudha was a negative portent.

Even if the coalition secures the confidence vote there is no telling on how long the cracks will remain papered-over. There are rumblings in both camps that MLAs were not consulted before the alliance was formed, rumblings that could be amplified when the “goodies” of office are being doled out ~ ministerial berths, heads of committees/corporations etc. With the BJP ever-ready to pounce and reclaim what it believes it has been cheated out of: the sick story of Karnataka politics is far from over.

Revert to the “national” scenario. An hour at Vidhana Soudha will not result in any deflating of ambitious egos. Rahul may have been “politic” enough to play second fiddle in Bengaluru, but will he do that in a larger perspective? Will the front project a front-man (woman) to challenge Narendra Modi, or will it again scrape the bottom of the barrel as was done when HD Deve Gowda became Prime Minister….

The questions are unending, the answers provide little assurance. It was at a similar conclave in Bengaluru (Bangalore then) that the Janata Dal took shape, it has since fragmented. And if “shows” at swearing-in ceremonies have any relevance, SAARC would have been rejuvenated when Mr Modi assumed office.