National Interest: Flopposition

Once again, just as the build-up to a fresh national election begins, the BJP has pulled the loser's cap on to its own head, rediscovering its nuclear deal moment. To be so stupid for the second time within four years needs special talent.

Even BJP leaders ruefully admitted that the loss of the no-confidence motion over the nuclear deal allowed the UPA to neutralise the incumbency disadvantage in 2009. You could have gone to the polls claiming you were cheated through cash-for-votes in Parliament. But, for that, the underlying issue, the nuclear deal, had to have great emotional appeal. It turned out to be a dud. Even the fantasy that such a strategic alliance with the Americans would anger Muslims into dumping the Congress and its supporters was belied.

Why did the BJP repeat exactly the same blunder? Once again, it struck an entirely cynical alliance with political forces with which it has nothing to share but hostility. Simple logic suggests that you build new alliances and equations in the life of one parliament that expand your base and reach into the next election. Did the BJP/NDA achieve that by joining hands with Mayawati, the Left and even Ajit Singh, against the nuclear deal? It ended up, and inevitably so, fighting each one of these so-called allies in the 2009 election. The defeat over FDI indicates it learnt no lessons from that disaster.

Here is an idea. Trace the BJP's history of post-2004 blunderings to one common fact: that it never accepted the 2004 loss with humility. From May 2004 onwards, therefore, it failed to build a political plan for a full five years in opposition. It has built, instead, a politics for each Parliament session. The central belief is the old one, that the UPA is about to collapse, just a case of ek dhakka aur do. That "dhakka", usually, would be something that pushes out one of the UPA's fence-sitting allies. As a result, it has written off many Parliament sessions. And yet its target looks steadier than before, even with the loss of an ally, the TMC.

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