Editorial: Coalition Compulsions For Modi 3.0

Editorial: Coalition Compulsions For Modi 3.0

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, June 10, 2024, 07:48 PM IST
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Cartoon | Mika

The era of single-party rule is over. The shock results of the 2024 general election have resulted in the return of coalition governance in India. The BJP, which was confident of a 300 plus tally, was reduced to a mere 240, 32 short of the majority mark, because of poor performances in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The contours of the Modi 3.0 government are bound to be very different from the previous two tenures of the BJP-led NDA government where the allies played an insignificant role. Now, the government’s stability is dependent on the allies and both TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu and JD-U president Nitish Kumar are known to be wily operators who can hold the government hostage if necessary. As of now everyone is playing nice and the two leaders have heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and promised to strengthen his hands to achieve the goal of a ‘Viksit’ Bharat. The 72-member Union Council of Ministers has twelve members from the allies, five of them with Cabinet rank. All the allies, barring the NCP, which was not content with a minister of state post, have found place in the government. In a bid to ensure continuity in governance, Modi has fallen back on tried and trusted faces from the BJP such as Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar. He has also inducted former chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Manoharlal Khattar to provide administrative heft to the government. The new Council of Ministers has representation from all over India. Kerala, where the BJP opened its account this time, has two representatives, film star Suresh Gopi, who won the Thrissur seat, and George Kurian, a veteran party leader of the state. Kurian’s induction is obviously with an eye on the Christian vote which the saffron party has been wooing assiduously. Odisha also has significant representation, as does Karnataka.

The government, which is keen to kickstart its journey immediately, has already chalked out plans for the first 100 days. This was decided even before the election results were declared when the BJP was riding on the ‘400-paar’ euphoria. Now the compulsions of coalition politics have kicked in. Modi will have to set aside contentious issues such as the Uniform Civil Code. The TDP has made it clear that it will back the Muslim quota in Andhra Pradesh to cater to its constituency. The BJP will also have to take strict action against purveyors of hate speech and discard its communal agenda in exchange for a stable government. Already there are voices in the JD-U calling for a review of the Agniveer scheme. All these factors will have to be taken into account by Modi as he heads his first collation government. Having enjoyed unbridled power since 2000 when he was chief minister of Gujarat and in the wake of the spectacular victories of 2014 and 2019, Modi will now have to adjust to a new style of functioning. Analysts feel he will deal with the new reality in his usual pragmatic style and continue to wield tremendous authority. The focus will certainly have to be on jobs and price rise, as these were key factors in determining the election results, rather than the Ram Mandir that the BJP had hoped would tilt the scales for it. Once portfolio allocation is completed, the next key issue will be the Speaker’s election. It is learnt that the TDP is keen on bagging the post but the BJP is equally determined to hold on to the key parliamentary post. Both the TDP and JD-U are aware of the BJP’s penchant for breaking parties as they have all been victim to Operation Kamal. Therefore, the Speaker’s post would be an insurance against poaching attempts. The 17th Lok Sabha was held hostage by a belligerent ruling party that effectively snuffed out Opposition voices. It is to be hoped that the 18th Lok Sabha will see the ruling party and the Opposition on a more even footing. The post of Deputy Speaker is also likely to be filled as will be the position of an official Leader of the Opposition, given that the Congress Party has almost doubled its numbers. Narendra Modi can take a leaf out of the book of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who presided over a very successful coalition government by setting aside contentious issues and taking allies’ views on board. It is imperative that the NDA chalk out a common minimum programme and appoint a convenor to mange contradictions. It is to be hoped that a government with reduced numbers will show more humility and accommodate multiple viewpoints. Modi 3.0 will have an interesting road to travel.

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