Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the gathering of self-righteous, grandiose yet politically irrelevant politicians yesterday in Kolkata was, what one media portal termed a ‘Freudian slip’ by Sharad Yadav. Perhaps it was a slip or it was the fabled conscience of a politician rearing its head or a calculated risk of a wily politician, whatever it was, it was the only moment of clarity in the otherwise incoherent ramblings of self-serving interests purportedly fighting for the bigger cause. Sharad Yadav brought the issue of Bofors twice in his speech prompting indignation from his fellow Modi-baiters.
The media narrative states that Sharad Yadav misspoke when talking about the Rafale deal and instead used the word ‘Bofors’. It is rather telling that in public lexicon, the word ‘Bofors’ has become synonymous with ‘scam’, a situation the Congress is desperately trying to change with half-hearted attempts at portraying the Rafale deal as the, by their own admission, ‘Next Bofors’. It is even more significant that not even an opposition leader is convinced of the validity of the ‘Rafale scam’, a misnomer that nobody believes in except the Congress party and even its own leaders have trouble remembering the script about where the ‘scam’ is.
In this context, the slip, if it was that, becomes very significant. On a stage where the anti-Modi brigade is supposed to take the blood-oath for the ouster of the ‘dictator’ and has the task of doing so without a reliable public mandate, the slip by Sharad Yadav could not have come at a more inopportune moment. The slip not only exposed the competing interests, divisive politics and incoherency of the agenda of the Mahagathbandhan but it also showed that the supposed Mahagathbandhan is not the gathering of wily politicians with strong public mandate but a cacophony of incoherent voices trying to perpetuate their own agendas over the ‘common minimum’ understanding that should be the bedrock of such an alliance. The telling slip points to the fact that the gathering was as hasty as it was ill-planned and that raises certain obvious questions. As was evident, without hashing out the nitty-gritty of an alliance and over-reliance on the ‘Modi hatao’ messaging that has failed to resonate with the people, is the survival of this alliance is even tenable?
The lack of coherency and planning that was exposed by Sharad Yadav’s slip points to the fact that the trouble for Mahagathbandhan is not ‘coming together’ but ‘staying together’, something which looks very unlikely.