An undesirable experiment

The coup bid raised many questions about political and constitutional practices and showed some high offices in a poor light.

The swearing-in of a Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra marks a new, and an undesirable, experiment in politics and government formation. The country has seen parties of different and even opposite ideologies and political persuasions coming together on a common platform to work for a cause, to deal with a common threat or fight a common enemy or even to form governments in certain situations. But in Maharashtra, a new low has been plumbed, with the Shiv Sena breaking out of its pre-poll alliance with the BJP which had won an electoral mandate to form a government. No argument or reason can justify the flouting of the people’s mandate and going over to the rival side to form a government. The new government under Uddhav Thackeray may have the numbers on its side but lacks in political and moral justification and would be considered as an opportunistic arrangement put together for a limited purpose.

That limited purpose is keeping the BJP away from power, and a government based on such a negative platform may eventually find the going tough. Though there will be a common minimum programme, the real minimum aim will be to stick together to retain power. But the contradictions among the parties are likely to soon come to the surface and make survival difficult. The Shiv Sena has been a chauvinist, pro-Hindutva and anti-minority party, and doing business with it cannot bring any credit to the other parties which claim to respect secular and democratic ideals. The most basic democratic practice is to respect the mandate of the people. The usual logic of post-poll alliances entered into sometimes by parties does not apply to Maharashtra where a pre-poll alliance was broken for no reason other than a disagreement over power-sharing. The nocturnal coup bid by the BJP last weekend to grab power by wrong means temporarily eclipsed the immorality and impropriety of the Sena-NCP-Congress gang-up, but after the failure of the bid the undesirability of the new combination is all the more clear again. 

The coup bid raised many questions about political and constitutional practices and showed some high offices in a poor light. One important question is about the conduct of Ajit Pawar, who crossed over to the BJP and was sworn in as the deputy chief minister, and then came back to the parent party as if nothing had happened. Forgiveness and repentance are personal values and may be important even in families, but a political party is not a family. New possibilities are being discovered and new practices set in Aya Ram, Gaya Ram politics, degrading and corrupting public life further. 

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