All is well that ends well

THE GREAT INDIAN CIRCUS

All is well that ends well

At last it appears to be curtains down for the great Indian circus. It is of course, our fond wish that nothing of distress would happen between now and 19th of March. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s tryst with Race Course Road is now a certainty with the Rashtrapathi, after due deliberation and caution, deciding to despatch the elusive missive inviting the BJP leader to form the Government and prove his majority on the floor of the House Within ten days.

For Vajpayee, the wait, though painful was worth the trouble. The President has indeed saved him a lot of turmoil by ensuring the passage of the confidence vote by assuring himself of the support of the allies in writing and eliciting a ‘promise’ from Chandrababu Naidu on his abstention. It would ever be a matter of debate on whether the President should have gone to such great lengths to ensure a stable Government. There is certainly a school of thought that claims his job was merely to call the single largest pre-poll group to form the government and thereafter it is the head-ache of the Prime Minister to secure a majority on the floor of the House. Yet one can understand the Rashtrapathi’s predicament, confronted as he was with a fractured mandate that, if not handled with care, had all the potential for a constitutional crisis. The President has gone out of the way to explain the rationale behind the decision and has also recorded the deliberations between him and various parties. Though unprecedented and even unnecessary, such a forthcoming gesture of accountability reflects a conscientious mind and is indeed heart warming. The President’s insistence on the participation of the allies in the Government is indicative of his concern, not only for the adequate numbers but also for a guaranteed degree of stability and cohesion in the Government. In the process, the President has also set the tone for smooth governance and an effective level of coordination between himself and the PM. Though one cannot expect the President to play the arbitrator in case of future disputes, his presence would no doubt give a moderating effect that can prevent matters from precipitating.

Jayalalitha’s spontaneous response to the President’s insistence is certainly a step in the right direction. There could be little doubt that her initial reluctance to participate in the Government was well founded given the doubts over the accommodation of TN’s concerns in the national agenda and the shoddy treatment meted out to the allies. That all such concerns have been sufficiently taken care of and the BJP high command’s all out bid to assuage Jayalalitha’s ruffled feelings are clear pointers that the lady has indeed walked away with the honours. And by acceding to the President’s ‘condition’ that her party should join the Government, Jayalalitha has, besides demonstrating her concern for TN’s interests and a respect for the Rashtrapathy’s office, has also ensured that the State can have the cake as well as eat it. This is in sharp contrast to the TMC which vowed to keep out of the Ministry on an imagined slight and then suddenly decided to join the Government even when there was no indication that their grievances had been addressed. The DMK of course, never entertains any thought about keeping out of the Government, not even for a minute, what-ever the provocations.

It is good that the Congress has resigned itself to its fate. The BJP-AIADMK face off did give it hopes of a successful bid for power but such unholy intentions were soon short circuited. Sonia’s averment that the party will not stake its claim as it lacks the numbers is just a case of sour grapes. The sudden coup that dethroned Kesri and enthroned her was most certainly, prompted by her desire to be at the ‘top’, if and when the invitation came. Fate, it appears, had willed it otherwise.

If the demise of the hero in any play could be described as a tragedy, then the great Indian circus of the last couple of years would rank as the mother of all tragedies. The United Front was undoubtedly the star player in the ring, what with their spectacular display of buffoonery, somersaults and tightrope walking but the photo finish climax of the show has ensured that it stands not only dead and dissolved, but also buried and forgotten. It was no doubt a costly and tragic show for the nation too and it is with a sigh of relief that the people bid adieu to the players, with the prayer that there would not be any resurrection of those skeletons.

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Jawahar T R