Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In PM's reckoning, three-and-a-half years for UPA2 to unravel

Apart from telling BJP's L.K.Advani not to presume that the prime minister's post was his for the taking, Manmohan Singh in his sweet-and-spiky reply in the Lok Sabha on March 23 on the Wikileak cable on alleged payments of bribes in the July 2008 trust vote has also indicated that Mr Advani would have to wait out for three-and-a-half years – the remaining period of the UPA2's term in office – before he can once again entertain the dream of being a PM. This was a clear indication from Singh, from government and from the Congress party that they are determined to stay in office till their time is up, and no number of scams and Wikileaks would embarrass or humilate them to leave before their time is out.

Neither the BJP nor the communists, the two major political formations who remain the main political challengers of the Congress, are looking for a quick fall of the government any time soon. The sentiment is palpable all round: No one wants an election, especially members of parliament. Mr Advani himself had confessed to journalists on the day the Wikileaks cable on trust vote bribes was published and all hell broke loose from the opposition end.

It is clear to them that they must make each and every issue that can show the government's wrongdoing should be played up for what it is without expecting Singh to take out his letter of resignation from his pocket. This does not however seem to mean that the opposition can sit back and let the scams, court directions, further revelations of murky deals and deeds explode in the face of Manmohan Singh's beleaguered team. They will have to bring the roof of the house down every time the dirt comes up. And this has to be kept up for the next three-and-a-half years.

The elelections to assemblies in the five states of Assam, West Bengal. Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu in April and May will make much difference to the gerenal fortune of the state of affairs at the centre. The BJP is very nearly absent in four of these states, and it is not a power to reckon with in Assam in spite of its presence. The communists count only in Kerala and West Bengal, and it is quite likely that they will lose in the two states though they expect they would not be decimated, and they would remain standing despite defeat.

Congressmen think that it is assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in the summer of 2012 that would somewhat and somehow affect the UPA2's political fortunes, and that that election would show whether 'third front' would emerge in an effective way at the national level. That is, like the communists the Congresswallahs too believe till the last that the BJP and the 'communal elements' need not be taken into account. Of course, the stout refusal to deal with the BJP as a political alternative did not prevent the rightwing party from getting into power at the centre in 1998 and in 1999 on the back of a loose coalition of socialist parties of the Hindi heartland and regional parties from elsewhere in the country.

The Congress prefers the emergence of a 'third front' because then it becomes easy for it to pull strings or coordinate with the secular formation. This is more of an ideological touch-me-not-ism in relation to the BJP but which the communists believe and sometimes rightly so that there is more in common between the secular Congress and the communal BJP than what either of them are willing to admit. It also the dream of the Indian middle class that the Congress and the BJP should cosy up for the benefit of this class. But all this will have to wait till after three-and-half years.

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