The Pope’s short and packed visit last Monday was perhaps the last big-ticket event – barring that of PM Modi, if he comes? – that has been planned by the incumbent government to boost its chances in the forthcoming general elections, the date of which is yet to be announced. In the meantime, all indications point towards pre-electoral alliances that are to be expected on either side of the political fence.
For one, it remains to be seen whether the MMM, which has for long remained a major party on the stage until it started its free fall to its worst performance to date in the 2017 by-election, will walk its talk of going it alone next time round – in the hope that it will play the kingmaker in the close fight that will oppose the Labour Party to the MSM-ML combine. A high-risk decision, given that, as Dharam Gokhool puts it in this week’s interview, ‘2019 is not 1976 when the MMM was a formidable political machinery, reaching out to nearly 50% of the voters – of all age groups, all backgrounds’. For its part, the Labour Party is surely still pondering the merit of a no-risk strategy by taking the PMSD along in the forthcoming electoral battle not so much for its electoral weight but for the symbol that the erstwhile party of Gaetan Duval represents…
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* Published in print edition on 13 September 2019