While, in the opinion of most, the INDI Alliance is bound to fall apart once the issues of seat distribution, ideological incompatibility and personal differences come to the fore, it is worth appreciating that this disparate lot is at least making some effort to work together. The aid being sent to the Himachal Pradesh government by other opposition led states is an example of this new spirit of cooperation. In contrast, it may be recalled that even humanitarian considerations had not mattered enough for the Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand to accept assistance from then Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi, during the Kedarnath disaster.
This emerging ‘federalism’ should prove a learning experience for the coalition, as most of the parties are formed around either individuals or dynasties. Accommodation, conceding space, cooperation is not just psychologically difficult, but also a threat to maintaining their hold over the respective votebanks. If they continue down the path, they may acquire a more ‘national’ approach to issues, rather than the single-point agenda of defeating Narendra Modi. It may lead to a situation where the opposition might actually begin working with the Union Government where it is essential, such as the ongoing problem in Manipur.
This might be wishful thinking in the case of the entire lot, but how the coalition develops will be interesting to watch. It is possible that some might acquire the kind of maturity displayed by Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, who can distinguish between party, state and national interests. It may be noted that Odisha’s society, law and order, and economy have benefited enormously as a result.
Hopefully, the need to achieve the overall objective will also compel the emerging mainstream of the opposition to put in their place the ‘unacceptable’ elements. If they claim to be against the ‘polarisation’ of society on ‘communal’ lines, they have to come down hard on the casteism, regionalism, racism, etc., that are just as divisive. The worldview has to become more sophisticated as compared to the present attempts to project an obviously fake persona. All the same, the people of India would be happy that, even in the few months the coalition is expected to last, it will imbibe important political lessons that will serve the member parties well in the future. As long as Indian democracy thrives, they will always have the chance to rise.