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Psychological Games

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The INDI Alliance has barely come into being, is yet to formalise its structure and, already, it seems in self-destructive mode. This was anticipated by experienced political analysts, but there was still some hope that it would turn out better. With all the maneuvering prior to the Mumbai meet, the Congress has released posters of a multi-headed Ravana-like Rahul Gandhi in the bid to position him as the leader of the alliance and the prime ministerial candidate. Senior leaders like Sharad Pawar, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, Shibu Soren, MK Stalin, Nitish Kumar, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and others have been reduced to sidekicks. Significantly, AAP Convenor & Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is missing, which may perhaps be considered a compliment. It probably is because he clearly has pan-India ambitions and would not be content with merely preserving a regional bastion. How this will go down with these and other leaders should be obvious. It will certainly not impact well upon the ongoing negotiations.

Apart from inviting the obvious comparison to Ravana – a clear mistake in perception building – are Rahul Gandhi’s backroom boys actually attempting to sabotage his bid for leadership with such posturing? Can it be a considered strategy and how is it supposed to work by alienating the allies? Or, is it psychological game-playing to determine how much these leaders are willing to kowtow in their desire to escape the grip of the BJP and future ED, CBI raids? It seems this desperation has become evident and, should the poster’s message be accepted, with the odd token protest, the people will be able to clearly gauge their state of mind.

It may be recalled that, when aspiring nobility would visit the Mughal Court, the main gates were not opened for all. Many were made to pass through the small entry in the gate and had to bend over to do so. It was a subtle message communicated about their status in the eyes of the Emperor. Something similar is happening here. And even if the coalition lasts long enough to give PM Modi a fight, will these slights be forgotten post the elections? In a close numbers game, some may even choose to side with the NDA rather than submit to such arrogance. With every passing day, the scenario gets even more complicated, which will require better skills than displayed at present to unravel.