HomePolitics‘One-Nation, One-Election’ could wreck I.N.D.I.A axis

‘One-Nation, One-Election’ could wreck I.N.D.I.A axis

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In a huff, the BJP regime at the Centre has charged up the entire political ecosystem in the country by its decision to hold a special session of parliament for five days from September 18.

The move, fraught with many possibilities, has set off intense speculations in media and high political circles regarding the agenda before the session.

One possibility being bandied about in media and political conversations is that of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushing its idea of ‘One Nation, One Election.’

The government constituting a committee with former president Ramnath Kovind as chairman to look into the matter has added grist to the speculation.

Though stacked with many imponderables, if this happens it is going to be a hugely disruptive shift that would significantly impact the present and future of India.

One immediate political consequence of this risk-ridden move, however, would be the unbundling of the I.N.D.I.A alliance. The bigwigs of the axis, assembled in Mumbai to work out the nitty gritty of the project, appear to have been caught unawares by the Centre’s decision to convene parliament session.

There are no firm ground to think that such a radical change like holding simultaneous elections could be brought about so soon. Still, given the penchant of the Modi government to spring surprises that could not be entirely ruled out. This could also be a ploy by the BJP to add one more item on its electoral  agenda for the ensuing elections.

Be that as it may, I.N.D.I.A leaders will be watching out the emerging scenario before rushing into decision. Despite the pious wish voiced by the constituents, the ground-level limitations of the brand I.N.D.I.A had been apparent right from the day it was proposed.

The sole rationale of the coming together of as many as 28 parties, many of them in rival camps in different political geographies, was to put up united fight to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), wherever that is possible.

But in a scenario where voters across the country are going to simultaneously elect their governments both in states and at the Centre, the old rivalries will be back in all force and acrimony, rendering the opposition unity in tatters.  

When it comes to the states, the conflicts within the I.N.D.I.A ranks are so sharp to be pushed under carpet for the larger aim of unseating the BJP from power at the Centre, and denying Modi a hattrick win. It would be foolish to think that in a combined election, all these parties would adopt different political agenda for the states and for the Centre. Even if this happens, given the remotest chance for that to happen, it would be advantageous to the BJP in most states.  

(The leaders gathers for a meeting of I.N.D.I.A held in Mumbai on August 31 and September 1, 2023)

The Congress is the only national party worth the status in the banding, which is overwhelmingly packed with regional outfits. Though the CPI(M) and CPI still flaunt the pan-Indian identity, their writ run only in Kerala, and to a very limited extent in West Bengal and Tripura.

Given these biting realities on the ground, it would be pretty hard to think that I.N.D.I.A would stick together and come out with a credible Common Political Programme to unitedly fight the ensuing elections, whether or not they are held simultaneously for the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha.

This would mean that all these parties would be compelled to remain where they are already positioned, with the axis failing to gain much political traction.

The electoral battles many states where the regional parties are strong like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi, Kerala and Odisha will continue to be on the existing lines, with the  I.N.D.I.A axis failing to kick in as a united block. In states where the BJP and the Congress are locked in straight contest, the alliance has no meaning or significance. There are another set of states where the Congress is already in alliance with the regional parties like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The contradictions arising from this disparate situation will be hard to be resolved and achieve the professed aim of having a single candidate against the BJP in as many as 400 LS seats.

All the same, I.N.D.I.A is not going to be disbanded. The rhetoric and sloganeering will be kept up and the political pitch against Modi will be raised to a higher pitch.  

All said and done, the next fortnight is going to be crucial in Indian politics.

N Muraleedharan
N Muraleedharan
Senior Journalist from Kerala. Worked with leading news agency Press Trust of India. He is regular columnist and writes on politics of Kerala and National Politics.


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