Justice Markandey Katju: India’s post-election scenario

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

I am convinced that BJP’s seats in the Lok Sabha will considerably reduce when the Lok Sabha election results are declared on June 4. At present, BJP has 303 seats, and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 353, out of the 543 elected seats in the House. The BJP is likely to go down to 200-210, and the NDA to about 240-250. The opposition I.N.D.I.A. bloc should get around the same number of seats as the NDA. It looks as if a coalition government would have to be formed by either.

A coalition government can potentially be weak, with its partners squabbling with each other, as it happened during the Janata Party rule in 1977-79 (after the Emergency), leading to the government’s collapse.

Soon after the results on June 4, and a coalition government is formed (either NDA or I.N.D.I.A.), the parties will likely bicker over lucrative portfolios like Finance, Commerce, Industry, Railways, etc. Everyone will want these ‘wet’ portfolios. No one wants ‘dry’ ministries like Women and Child Welfare, Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Environment and Climate Change, Rural Development, Sports, etc.

Something similar happened after the last strong Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb died in 1707. The kings after him were known as the Later Mughals, and they ruled till 1857 when the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was deposed
by the British.

These Later Mughals were Emperors only in name. Their ‘Empire’ was reduced to just Delhi and its vicinity. As the popular saying went, “Saltanat-e-Shah Alam, az Dilli ta Palam” (“The Empire of Shah Alam is from Delhi to Palam”). Palam, part of the empire then, was considered “outskirts” of Delhi, though at present it is within the city and is one of its state assembly constituencies.

The Mughal governors and generals became regional satraps, and declared themselves independent rulers. Asaf Jah became the first Nizam of Hyderabad, Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Avadh, and Murshid Quli Khan became the first Nawab of Bengal.

Similarly, India could be gradually balkanised under a weak coalition government, with state rulers having the real power. These state government rulers will be the kingmakers (like the Syed brothers), making and toppling central governments.

The Later Mughals era witnessed chaos and turmoil, and it was around this time that prominent criminal organizations like thugs and pindaris ravaged the land. The same is likely to happen in the near future.

The reign of the Later Mughals ended when a foreign power conquered India. One shudders at the thought of history repeating itself.

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