News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Better Off Being Allies

The 80-20 rule is also applicable to politics, especially coalition politics.

Shobhika Puri

According to the ‘Pareto Principle’ or the ‘80-20 rule’, for many events 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. This rule is often associated with the corporate. Surprisingly, this rule is also applicable to politics, especially coalition politics.

The recently concluded Budget Session of the Parliament is an excellent example of this principle.

Women’s Bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha despite it getting a green signal from the Rajya Sabha because RJD, SP, BSP and a section of JD(U) wanted quota within the quota for women from the backward classes. Only then were they willing to offer their support. Since this could not happen, the Bill has been postponed till the Monsoon Session.

Then came the Cut Motions. BSP, that was until recently a foe of the Congress, suddenly came to rescue the party. Mayawati’s MPs voted against the Cut Motions. Why? The answer is no secret. The RJD and SP also supported the Congress indirectly by staging a walkout.

Next was the turn of the caste-based Census. Even though some sections of the Congress were not in favour of including ‘caste’ as a parameter, they had to give in to the pressure from the Yadavs yet again.

Finally, came the Nuclear Liability Bill. Even though Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav were opposed to the Bill until as recent as March 2010, they did not oppose the same in May. Not surprising given the fact that their other demands were being met.

Even though the Congress sits with a majority of 206 seats out of a total of 543, most of its decisions were being taken by ‘others’ - BSP, SP and RJD. Ironically, these three hold only 21, 23 and 4 seats, respectively. This translates into 9 percent of the seats calling the shots for a party that has 38 percent of the seats. Also, it would not be incorrect to say that 9 percent of the seats were effectively making the decisions for the remaining 91 percent! This is even more startling than the ‘80-20 rule’. We can call it the ‘91-09 rule’, or even better the ‘Mulaluwati* Principle’!

This ‘quid pro quo’ may become a little confusing for some but, this is the politics of coalition and our politicians seem to have mastered in this art.

The best part about this kind of an arrangement is that these ‘allies’ don’t really have duties corresponding to their rights. They shall take credit if these Bills are passed but, hide behind the Congress lest they fail. They are actually having the cake and eating it too!

There can be no better way to conclude than with a famous dialogue from Shah Rukh Khan’s movie, Baazigar, “Haar kar bhi jeetne wale ko baazigar kehte hain!

*Mulayam Singh Yadav plus Lalu Prasad Yadav plus Mayawati

(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer and an LSR(DU) and IIM Lucknow, Noida Campus alumna)