by Vivek BharadwajI

by Vivek Bharadwaj It would be a good idea to find out what the wise guys in the Congress think tank—or whatever passes off for it—smoke Their current scrap with the NCP in Maharashtra completely defies political logic and can be attributed only to temporary insanity. That is why they can’t see how much they stand to gain by saving their marriage with the NCP At stake is not just Maharashtra This is actually a great opportunity to expose the opportunists who hide their ambitions behind the Hindutva cloak Consider the current situation in Maharashtra There is a lot of haggling and bickering going on between politicians in Maharashtra at the moment The BJP is fighting with the Shiv Sena; the smaller parties are quibbling about their share and the NCP wants to contest from more seats The Congress has everything to lose if it breaks its alliance with the NCP: PTI image You can at least read the minds of those bargaining in this fish market The BJP wants its man to be the next chief minister; the Thackeray clan wants to assert its supremacy and Narendra Modi to return Balasahab’s favours; and the NCP wants to contest more seats because it did better than its partner in the Lok Sabha elections and because it wants to keep its post-poll options open What exactly is the Congress’ motive other than the uncontrollable desire to self-destruct In Maharashtra the Congress has absolutely no chance of returning to power In fact it is likely to come up with its worst performance in the state’s history Everything points in that direction A recent survey by ABP-Nielsen suggests that the Congress-NCP alliance will win just 55 seats and its vote share will fall to 28 percent; It has given the NDA 42 percent Another survey puts the Congress-NCP tally at 59 seats and NDA’s at 206 There are 288 seats in the Maharashtra assembly If the combined tally is expected to be so low imagine the rout when the Congress and the NCP part ways They wouldn’t be just defeated what awaits them is decimation Is Sharad Pawar not aware of the consequences of a break-up If you look at Pawar’s trajectory and his recent ambiguous statements on Narendra Modi it gives rise to suspicion that the NCP may not actually mind splitting with the Congress Breaking away from the Congress leaves it with more options if the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance also ruptures In the likely scenario of the BJP emerging as the largest party —surveys suggest this— the NCP can dream of being part of the government by offering support Even the two dozen seats it may win by contesting alone could make it an important player in a hung assembly So the NCP can actually end up as the biggest gainer by dumping the Congress Doesn’t Congress understand this Yes it does But its hubris is forcing it to quarrel when the only option it has is to get down on its knees and ask the NCP to stay The Congress can’t get over the illusion of being a ‘national-level’ party even after the humiliation in the Lok Sabha elections It can’t come to terms with the reality of its diminishing influence But it must give up its ego especially if Amit Shah and Uddhav end up kicking each other out of the mahayuti If the saffron allies break up it would prove that their partnership was just for satiating power lust When it becomes apparent that both got rid of each other in the belief that they were individually capable of winning the election their ideological cloak of Hindutva will be off The Congress should not give up this opportunity for exposing ‘Hindutva opportunists’ by giving its opponents the option of mocking at ‘secularism opportunists’ Only by remaining united can the Congress and the NCP score an ideological victory over its opponents It is not impossible Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav have just shown us the power of compromise and the merits of sacrificing bloated egos Can Rahul learn from them

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