What if???


What if???

Swapnanil Barua | May 18, 2019 15:21 hrs

What if the BJP sweeps the polls nationally and the party’s nominees and its allies secure all the fourteen seats from Assam to the Parliament?  First and foremost, the new MPs will adorn the back benches, while the second timers will find a place in the middle. The allies will not get any ministerial berths, while only one MP from BJP can expect a minister of state, that too around 2021, when Assembly polls are due in Assam. With BJP sweeping, the importance of the 14 Assam MPs will take a backstage and the Prime Minister may not have the time to focus on the northeast as before as creating jobs will be his prime focus. So, he has to transfer the burden to a capable northeasterner. The picture may change if Himanta Biswa Sarma goes to Parliament via the Rajya Sabha. A situation of Sarbananda Sonowal going back to Delhi and a new CM in Assam, with the prime responsibility of getting BJP back to power in Assam in 2021, cannot be ruled out. If the CAB matter crops up again AGP may consider revising its agreement with BJP as it will not get the precious Rajya Sabha seat either. Raising the CAB bogey may be a good ploy to get rid of AGP and consolidate the opposition to Congress/AIUDF combine. Like the recent acquisition of the CAB opponents into the BJP fold, Assam BJP will have to work on the possibility of getting the existing AGP leadership to merge into BJP and wind up AGP, forever. Easy 2021 assembly elections thereafter! 

For the new MPs, the working of Parliament and Central Secretariat, forming lobbies to push their cases, getting to know the government schemes etc will take a year or two. This will call for rigorous study, hours in the Parliament library, meeting experienced people, handling middlemen and corporate lobbyists, developing personal rapport with the central ministers and bureaucracy, working with the state government to prepare state specific schemes and submit them to central government in time - absolute hard work, which most Assam MPs will not go through, as seen from past experience. Further, the MPs have to reach out to the diplomatic corps to acquaint themselves with the different trade agreements with different countries, to see if Assam can benefit from these bilateral agreements - a task impossible to be done alone. Most successful MPs have their research teams to go through all aspects of governance. The forming and maintenance of these research teams have to borne by the MP himself; very few MPs from Assam will agree to or have the resources for this. The MPs will have to draw on the resources of the different cells and departments in the party headquarters which provide inputs to the party leadership on different aspects of ideology, politics, development plans, international relations, tribal interactions etc. Being a BJP MP will also need the maintenance of cordial/intimate relationships with the RSS and other Sangh Parivar organisations. Marrying the demands of the Sangh Parivar and the needs of the state is a tightrope walk; senior leaders of the party have developed this into an art by itself. 

The maiden speech of an MP is his make or break moment. How he prepares for it, concentrates on his delivery, his dramatics, his clarity of thought, making the most of the brief allotted time, are some of the features that indicate the future prospects of the MP. If a star is born in the first opening, the MP comes under the spotlight. Ministers and bureaucrats come to know of him, he gets media attention and getting things done becomes much easier. AB Vajpayee was one good example of how freshers made immediate impact or why a ten year PM Manmohan Singh never did. Who else is an excellent example of effective eloquence than Narendra Modiji?

Now, what if the Congress comes back to power in Delhi with a healthy strength from Assam? A leadership issue will crop up between the old guard Paban Ghatowar and Bhubaneswar Kalita, for the likely lone ministerial berth. Tarun Gogoi will naturally push for Gaurav Gogoi. This will lead to camp splitting among the Congress MPs. Ripun Bora as a Rajya Sabha MP and party president, will also stake his claim. Irrepressible MGVK Bhanu will use his pan-India Congress links to stick his finger into the ministership game. Why would Rani Narah leave herself out of the race? Ajmal Sahab will have a difficult time staying away or befriending Congress. All this will have its ramifications in the Pradesh Congress which is suffering from multi leadership now. Closer at Delhi Congress MPs will be more accessible to Rahul Gandhi. This will weaken the position of Rockybul Hussein in his bid for state leadership in the 2021 Assembly elections. Alternatively with Ripun Bora, Pradyut Bordoloi, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Gaurav Gogoi, Pabansingh Ghatowar likely Congress CM contenders being away in Delhi, the claim of Rockybul Hussein for chief ministership in Assam may brighten. To consolidate its future in Assam, Congress must kill AIUDF. 

If any party comes to power by a slender margin, coalition politics will come to play. The Assembly by-polls to fill up the constituencies of the vacating MLAs will indicate the shape of politics to come in Assam. We may also see MP elections again if the MLAs prefer to stay MLAs than become insignificant MPs.

(The author is a retired bureaucrat and a sports and cultural organiser)

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