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Mainstream, Vol XLVII No 13, March 14, 2009

Growing Complexities in Prevailing Scenario

Editorial

Sunday 15 March 2009, by SC

As we go to press the situation in Pakistan remains uncertain with civilian unrest having spread across the country spearheading the demand for withdrawal of Governor’s rule in Pakistan Punjab, abrogation of the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying the Sharif brothers from contesting elections, and reinstatement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar M. Chaudhry, who was dismissed during the rule of former President Pervez Musharraf. While the lawyers have already started their long march in support of their demand for the ex-CJ’s reinstatement, the government has cracked down on the agitators especially in Sindh. But efforts are underway to ensure a kind of reconciliation with the PML-N on lifting of Governor’s rule in Punjab; but simultaneously the Pak President, Asaf Ali Zardari, is believed to have been sidelined with PM Yusuf Raza Gilani taking a more active role in bringing about the reconciliation with support from Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Such a reconciliation among the political parties as also with the lawyers is the need of the hour not only to prevent the possibility of an Army coup but also to help the polity unitedly meet, with the Army, the imminent threat posed by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists who are closing in on Peshawar.

Meanwhile the national political scene is punctuated by electoral alignments and realignments. As the Congress is busy stitching up electoral understandings and alliances in West Bengal (with the Trinamul Congress) and Maharashtra (with the NCP) its efforts at seat-sharing in UP (with the Samajwadi Party) have till date not borne fruit. In the midst of these developments the BJP has suffered a major jolt with such a reliable and longstanding partner like the BJD severing ties with the BJP in Orissa (essentially on the issue of seat-sharing, though the main ruling party in the State decided to take the step only when it was convinced that any further association with the principal Opposition party at the Centre would turn out to be huge liability on account of the Hindutva forces’ indiscriminate killing of Christians in the recent past, and it was able to record resounding success in the latest municipal poll in the State on its own). This is a massive loss to the BJP regardless of whatever its leaders may say while putting up a brave face. However, if one takes a dispassionate view of the Orissa events one would have to conclude that it would be advantage Congress in the State.

Nonetheless, the Orissa developments have given a fillip to the efforts to build the Third Front which has just been formally launched from a big rally at Tomkur near Bangalore. The General Secretaries of the CPM and CPI are exuding confidence in public that this Third Front would be able to defeat both the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA in the coming elections. The reality, however, is different: given the poll-eve correlation of forces, the BJP cannot be defeated and the machinations of the Sangh Parivar foiled by the Third Front alone; without enlisting the support of the Congress-led UPA the BJP-led NDA’s march to power at the Centre cannot be halted.

Despite all that has happened in the last five years, it is only through the time-tested strategy of unity and struggle in relation to the Congress could the Left have ensured national advance while keeping the fissiparous forces at bay. After all, for all its wrong-doings and even anti-people acts the Congress cannot be accused of having ever shared power with or propped up the BJP anywhere (even while compro-mising with both Muslim fundamentalism and Hindu communalism).

Growing complexities at home and in our neighbourhood are a cause for legitimate concern in the prevailing scenario.

March 12 S.C.

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