Why should a party that performs well in the Hindi-speaking parts of India inevitably end up leading the nation? author Saba Naqvi questions in her new book in which she examines the possibility of a coalition government after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In ‘Politics of Jugaad: The Coalition Handbook’, the political analyst runs through the history of political alliances in the country taking into account their performance on economic and social policies, among others, while juxtaposing them with that of a single-party rule.
Some of India’s most significant political leaders have repeatedly got elected from the same constituency – for instance Jawaharlal Nehru from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh, Lal Bahadur Shastri from Allahabad, Indira Gandhi from Rae Bareli (although she contested once from Chikmagalur in Karnataka), Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi, Vishwanath Pratap Singh from Allahabad, Chandra Shekhar from Ballia, Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli, Atal Bihari Vajpayee from Lucknow and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
With the exception of Sonia Gandhi, all the others have been the prime ministers. HD Deve Gowda from Karnataka, Narasimha Rao from Andhra Pradesh and Morarji Desai from Maharashtra also became prime ministers. Manmohan Singh was a Rajya Sabha member of Parliament (MP) and Inder Kumar Gujral had once contested a Lok Sabha poll from Jalandhar in Punjab.
“Yet, it is a valid question for us to ask: In principle, why can we not have a prime minister from Vadodara in Gujarat, the other seat Modi stood from in 2014 and subsequently gave up? Why is it outside the realm of probability that a PM could come from Tamil Nadu or Kerala or the Northeast? Do we believe that a leader who represents the Hindi-speaking regions is more representative of India than those from other regions?,” Naqvi says.
“It is, however, states in southern and western India that have far better economic growth. One must wonder if, at some point, other parts of India will resent the sheer political clout of the complex but backward state of UP,” she writes in the book published by Rupa Publications.
Naqvi also cites the example of resentment brewing within some nations in Europe, such as Spain, where the more prosperous parts are beginning to resent taking responsibility of the rest of the country.
However, Naqvi, who has penned three other political books prior to this, is certain the UP, which sent the maximum BJP MPs to Parliament in 2014, would remain crucial and have a major impact in the 2019 elections.
The recently-released book also makes a study of the Congress “tryst with dynasty” with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra taking a plunge into active politics for the party helmed by her brother Rahul Gandhi.
Naqvi says that in the 2014 general elections, the BJP won a simple majority with a vote share of 31 per cent, while the Congress had a dismal showing with just 19 per cent of the votes and its lowest tally of 44 seats in Parliament.
“But combine the vote shares of the two pre-eminent national parties, and it was 50 per cent. That shows that even in a national election, where people voted for a government at the centre and not in the states, other parties got the remaining 50 per cent, or half the votes.”
“There is, therefore, a great legitimacy to our search for a coalition that is truly representative and stable. But there are pitfalls to this exercise due to the competing interests and egos of those who lead political parties,” she adds.
The book has been written at the cusp of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which are underway. Three of the seven phases of the elections have been completed. The results of the voting will be out on May 23.