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The voters don’t matter, those who count do


By Ambikanand Sahay 

“The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election; the people who count the votes do”, said Joseph Stalin who was widely considered as one of the 20th century’s most significant political figures.

You may or may not like the face of this otherwise ruthless Soviet Communist Party supremo known, in short, as Stalin. 

But you would certainly find hell of a lot of merit in what he says, especially if you happen to be watching with dismay the developments that are taking place in Mumbai in the aftermath of the recently concluded state assembly elections.

To understand what is happening there clearly, consider the facts first: The electorate of Maharashtra voted unequivocally in favour of the BJP-Shiv Sena pre-poll alliance mandating the latter to form a government. 

The voters, at the same time, commanded the Congress-NCP alliance to sit gracefully in the Opposition. But nothing of the sort happened. Who cares about the will of the voters? The voters can, at very best, cast their so called precious votes.

That’s all. They don’t elect governments. 

For, this is realpolitik, wherein both the pre-poll alliances are undergoing metamorphosis. Words such as constitutional ethics and political morality carry no meaning any longer. Ideological compulsions too seem to have evaporated into thin air.

Who would, in his right senses, have imagined in the pre-election days that Shiv Sena and Congress will come together along with Sharad Pawar’s NCP? None. But, like it or not, that’s what’s happening precisely.

Now, you can understand the full essence of Stalin’s quotation. 

The business of installing governments in our system is, in fact, left at the mercy of those who count the votes of the elected representatives – not the masses who participate in elections with great fanfare.

And who are the men who ultimately organise counting of votes of the newly elected legislators? The State Governor? No, certainly not. The High Commands of different political parties? Yes. 

They are the real masters. It’s they who are free to forge new coalitions.

The Governor can merely invite the contending political parties to come to him if they have the numbers on their side to form a government. But what happens when the Governor knows that no political party or combination enjoys majority support at that point in time.

Obviously, President’s Rule is imposed. 

And that’s what has happened. For the time being. The story doesn’t end there. Disparate political forces come together opportunistically in a new realignment for the sake of naked power but in the name of “service to the people”.

A common minimum programme is carved out quickly and other things like ministries and portfolios are settled upon amicably with foes turned friends. 

And, in the process, the number one party is left out in the cold high and dry. The arithmetic is simple: Let number 2, 3 and 4 get together to beat number 1. This is the crux of the matter in realpolitik. The Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress appear to have finally cobbled up the numbers to beat the BJP. And what’s more important is that the Governor has invited them at the all important Raj Bhavan at 3 pm tomorrow. 

The NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, says: “Don’t worry, the government will run for full 5 years”. That’s the story of Maharashtra thus far. But in the words Nitin Gadkari politics is like cricket. You can never predict the result of a match before the last ball is bowled. 

Hindusthan Samachar