Oppn’s story: United in affront, split on front
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'Issue-based cooperation' is not a new term in India's political lexicon, but it has sprung back to use in recent days. The latest example is the decision to hold a joint protest on Thursday against the diesel price hike and opening up of multi-brand retail trade to FDI.
One hears it when Parliament is in session as the Opposition benches seek to unite against the government, and it is touted when a clutch of regional parties try to put in place a new working relationship with the Left.
However, probe deeper and the fact is that none of these constituents wants to take this forward to any kind of a new political force or Third Front. The reasons are many — significant among them being the trust deficit between parties, the prime ministerial ambitions of the regional satraps from Mulayam Singh Yadav to J Jayalalithaa, and the propensity among many to flirt with the Congress or BJP to have a shot at power. The "glue" of the past that could have bound them together — anti-Congressism or hatred for the "communal" BJP — is no more a rallying point.
Plus, there remain the practical difficulties of balancing out the regional rivals, be it the Trinamool Congress and Left or the Samajwadi Party and BSP.
There also remain parties' internal contradictions, dictated by own agendas. So we get to see the SP, Left, BJD, TDP and JD(S) uniting to oppose FDI in retail trade and diesel price hike, but the BJD missing in the same group's joint action over coal block allocation. The SP is fighting a lonely battle against reservations in promotions and the Lokpal Bill while all of them plus the AIADMK are together against the government over federalism.
With parties walking in or staying away depending on what's at stake, an issue-based joint platform has proved far from workable so far. The bottomline: even as the Indian political scene remains in turmoil, a major political realignment can't be expected ahead of the 2014 general elections.
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