United Janata Parivar: Here’s why BJP and PM Modi should worry about the tie-up

New Delhi,Akshaya Mishra: It is easy to dismiss the idea of the Samajwadi Janata Dal. After all, haven’t we seen all this before? The old war horses of the erstwhile Janata Parivar vow to fight the common enemy, come on one platform in show of solidarity, go a few steps together and then everything disintegrates. Personal ambition kicks in quickly, as do egos and the leaders part way.

United Janata Parivar: Here’s why BJP and PM Modi should worry about the tie-up

Nitish Kumar and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav

But this time there appears a shift in the script. For a change, the leaders are not trying to form a new front on the lines of the NDA or the UPA. Too many parties with ideological asymmetry on board made the front experiment a disaster. They are merging to form a party and they are settling the leadership question in the beginning itself. Once a political party they won’t be distracted and left divided by the Congress or the BJP. Desperation, driven by the fear of being rendered politically redundant, promises to hold them together longer this time.

With the opposition space almost vacant in national politics, there is ample scope for an entity like Samajwadi Janata Party to make its presence felt. Once it establishes as a coherent unit it can easily be the rallying point for other non-BJP, non-Congress parties. However, right now everything is in the realm of uncertainty. For an experiment that has floundered so often in the past, the proof of its viability would be in its ability to stand on its feet first.

If that happens, it would be a danger signal for the BJP, which appears to be taking its new-found pre-eminence in national politics for granted. The latter’s smugness — it shows often in the utterances of its leaders these days — so far comes from the realization that with Narendra Modi as its mascot, it really has no challengers left in the country. Successive electoral victories in states have reinforced this notion of invincibility. But the chinks in its armour are visible already. A strong opposition can easily make political capital of these. A socialist-secularist party such as the proposed Samajwadi Janata Party is particularly positioned better to do that.

Here’s why.

Only six months in power, the ruling dispensation – let’s not be shy about it; it includes the Sangh Parivar too – has opened up more conflict areas than it can possibly handle. There are several other challenges lying ahead in the form of tall promises made to several segments of the electorate.

The expression ‘secularism’ may sound vacuous at this point, but this is one of the more important subjects around which the next big political battle will be fought. The BJP won’t admit it in public, but it is making the mistake of misconstruing the victory for the RSS ideology. Its deliberate silence or double-speak on the activities of the Hindutva elements who have gone more assertive, brazen and confrontational in the last few months reflects this amply. Unless it does course correction and manages to erase the growing perception that it is siding with forces insisting on majoritarian dominance, it might end up alienating Hindu liberals as well as the minority communities.

The splinter groups of the Janata Parivar still enjoy good traction among the minorities in their respective states. Fighting as one unit they would be able to manage to stop the splintering of these votes.

The aggressive pro-industry economic agenda of the government creates political space parties with socialist leaning to flourish. As the government goes ahead with amendments to the Land Act and largescale acquisition of land begins, several conflicts with farmers at the centre of it are bound to emerge across the country. The BJP seems to have forgotten that the UPA government’s Land Act was necessitated by such conflicts in the first place. The ground reality has not changed a bit with the change of government. The more the present government sides with the industry lobbies on land matters, the more it vacates space for the opposition.

The new government is enjoying an extended honeymoon period. The media have been careful not to ask it uncomfortable questions although there many to ask already. One year down the line, the equation might not stay the same. The same applies to the voters, particularly the young ones, who expected great changes. For a party which has overpromised, the chances of underdelivery are larger.

With the Modi government getting all the benefit of doubt at the moment, it’s not a level playing for other political parties. As the performance of the government comes under scrutiny at some point and the playing field gets more even, the strongest party in the opposition space is the best placed to reap the benefits. With the Congress nowhere in the picture, the Samjwadi Janata Party – if it is in existence by then – would be the biggest beneficiary.