Thursday, March 31, 2011

TINA factor saviour for scam-hit Congress

New Delhi: The Congress leaders are breathing easy after the government beat back opposition assault in parliament this week over the Wikileaks cable pertaining to alleged payment of bribes in the July 2008 trust vote in Lok Sabha.

Apart from taking a sharp jibe at BJP leader and prime ministerial aspirant L.K.Advani, prime minister Manmohan Singh told him in his reply in Lok Sabha on Wednesday that he (Advani) will have to wait three-and-a-half years to try his luck at the hustings. It was a clear indication that the Congress is confident of being in office its full term and Singh is sure that he will be at the helm as well.

The opposition is dispirited but it has not given up. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member M.Venkaiah Naidu said that the lawyerly defense put up by Kapil Sibal in Lok Sabha and P.Chidambaram in Rajya Sabha would be of no avail because people are now convinced that this government is steeped in corruption.

Another senior BJP leader has however said that it is much too early even to think of an election. A more candid assessment of a CPI-M leader is that there is no alternative to the present government and that will be the only reason for its survival. He has also said that though there will be a convergence between the BJP and the communist parties n nailing the government's acts of commission and omission, he does not see this translating into a united opposition front for electoral purposes. 'This government will survive by default,” he said on condition of anonymity.

According to BJP's Congress-watchers, there is no alternative to prime minister Singh in the Congress. “The party would like to bring in Rahul Gandhi when the going is good not when it is bad,” said the BJP leader, who wished to remain anonymous. He said that the prime minister has lost much of his sheen as an economist because of the persisting double-digit food inflation.

He has also pointed out that India's charm offensive at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month was a disaster. He said that Indian captains of industry have given it out that investors are heistant to come to India despite their interest in the country because of their dissatisfaction with infrastructure, something that the prime minister had been speaking about but was not able to do much about it. The foreign direct investment (FDI) has fallen by 35 per cent this year, which is again a clear indicator of the reservations of foreign investors in the country. And the scams have cast a shadow on his reputation of a clean man.

The marxist leader gave an ideological twist to Singh's woes. He said corruption is a result of the neo-liberal economic paradigm followed by the prime minister, and this can only breed crony capitalism. He says the tale of the unfolding scams is that of the cronies crawling out of the corners.

He also feels that the fatal flaw of UPA2 is that there is no common minimum programme which binds the alliance partners. The CMP has been a feature of all the coalition governments since 1996, and there was one even in 2004. It was only in 2009 that it was jettisoned. As a result, the UPA has been reduced to a single party – that is, a Congress – government. Without an acknowledged agenda, the government has no clear programme of governance. It is drifting, he said.

But the opposition parties are not in a position to throw down the gauntlet as it were.
Congressmen on their part remain unpereturbed. Says one of them, “We have been through all this before. We will not be affected.” It can either be the boast of battle-scarred veterans or sheer indifference of an insensitive party.

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