ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

AM The only feasible strategy to hold the polity together seems to be coalition regimes and no tragic view need be taken if such coalitions initially prove fragile, governments keep collapsing and succession of elections becomes inevitable BETTER get reconciled, this is the nation we constitute. A particular phase in its supposed experiments with parliamentary democracy is ended. The manner of this ending, again let us be fair, has been neither unique nor unprecedented. Minority regimes are in any case susceptible to high risk. What has happened to the Chandra Shekhar government is basically not much different from the fate overtaking Chaudhury Charan Singh a dozen years ago. On that occasion, Indira Gandhi withdrew her support, and the regime of those who had walked out of the Janata Party came to a sudden death. On the present occasion, it was the turn of her offspring to treat in an identical manner the government put together by parliamentarians elected on the Janata Dal ticket but who had chosen to defy their mandate last November. As was the case in 1979, the temporary alliance between the two unequal political formations, the Congress(l) and what has come to pass as Janata(S), too was without any explicit programmatic understanding. In terms of the quality of both talent and parliamentary support at their disposal, the chieftain of Bagpat was however much more fortunately placed than the walk- man from Balia. Charan Singh, by his own right, and with someone of the stature of Y B Chavan as his deputy prime minister, could demand deference. Chandra Shekhar, with his retinue of just 54 stragglers in the Lok Sabha, mostly evoked derision; the role filled in by the Devi Lals and the Subramaniam Swamys added to the discomfiture. The simulated bravado over the refuelling issue notwithstanding, the dependence on the Con- gress(I) had been so total, in both appearance and reality, that it continued to remind one of the symbiotic relationship between the monkey and the organ- grinder. That too was a false impression. The arrangement was unstable; it was unlikely to last beyond the allegorical nine days. It did not. Had Chandra Shekhar been suffering from the illusion that he would survive indefinitely where Charan Singh did not, either he would have been extraordinarily naive, or the induction to power would have clouded his judgment. Going by external evidence, he has now been forced to reckon with reality. His pre emptiv e resignation has created some awkwardness for both the supreme leader of the Congress(l) and their common patron-cum-protege in Rashtrapati Bhavan. One dirty gesture, Chandra Shekhar can however retort, deserves to be matched by an equally dirty one.

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