(posted on my Facebook page on August 29, 2013)
I was on the phone with a very senior politician last night and what he told me left me dazed. I don’t think this will happen, but i can tell you that stranger things have been known to happen.
Between the two of us, the politician and I, we were going through alternate scenarios. Modi and BJP will sweep North India, he said, giving the BJP something close to 180 seats. Even then it will be difficult for Modi to form the government, he said.
The Congress will not get much more than 120, he said, ruling out a Congress led government. It will be hugely unstable, he said.
Does this not mean the day will belong to the third front, I asked him. Sure, he said, but who will be the PM that will be acceptable to all, he went on to ask.
As he rightly said, no formation will be stable unless either the Congress or the BJP support it. Also, if the biggest party turns out to be SP, Mulayam would want to be PM, the only other person he would consider supporting is Sharad Pawar. The other two big parties could be AIADMK and Trinamool, but neither has a PM aspirant of their own (though Amma is said to harbour such thoughts from time to time) or one would be willing to support without reservation. in any case, the AIADMK will throw its weight behind Modi.
Thus, if the largest party in the group has fewer than 40 members, the President will have a tough time determining just who could provide a stable governement. It is easy to say that there would be a floor test but the President can only invite someone when he is satisfied that the person can sail through a floor test. He will ask for letters of support from the various parties.
The whole thing will hinge on who would be acceptable as PM, who can get the letters. It cannot be a Congressman or a BJP person, it has to be someone who is senior and acceptable. Sharad Pawar, I offered. But Sharad Pawar will at best have only 10 from his own party and if he fights the election in a pre poll alliance with the Congress, that could rule him out.
By now, I was getting impatient. Who, who, i asked.
How about PM?
Yes, who will be the PM?
Yes PM, but who.
Don’t you get it, he said, further trying my patience, which had by now worn thin. PM.
Suddenly it hit me.
Who else but PM. He is as senior as senior can be, he has friends cutting across party lines. He has for long harboured the ambition to be PM.
But could he, wont it be a come down for him, I asked. He would have to resign from his present position. Is there no conflict of interest especially if he has to be the judge of who will be in a position to provide a stable government and he picks himself?
He will do it in the interest of the country. Instability or stable government, that is how the choice will be presented.
So, PM for PM.