Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Congress, BJP could dictate terms to SP, BSP in UP

A possible hung assembly would overturn roles of winners and losers

New Delhi: In one of those glorious uncertainties of UP politics, the losers could be calling the shots and playing the kingmaker, and the winners – in terms of the single largest party – could be at the mercy of the political laggards. That is, the Congress or the BJP, would be in a place to dictate terms to the local grandees, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The third and fourth in the electoral rankings will lasso as it were the first and the second in the race.

The final result remains an open-ended question in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election – the complexity of the political situation in the country's most populous state has stumped the weather-beaten politicians as well as overreaching political pundits – and the open-ended fallout presents opportunities and challenges of a third kind. The expectation is that this is going to be close race, suggesting a hung assembly.

The poker game that is being played out is interesting if not too intorguing. If the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party are to emerge as the single largest part, then the Congress is considered the likely ally. Most Congress have been maintaining that this time round, that no government can be formed in UP without the support of the party.

This position, of course, militates against the stated mindgames being played out by the Congress. General secretary and party in-charge of UP, Digvijay Singh, and local honcho Sri Prakash Jaiswal, have declared that if the Congress were not to win, there will be President's Rule in the state. The game plan is clear. Even the mosr sanguine Congressmen and women know that the party will not be winning the election. And according to information that has trickled into media channels, the party's warhorse in the state, Rahul Gandhi, has taken an inflexible position that Congress will remain outside the power stakes. This could well be a tactic and political compulsions are likely to make the hardliners to adopt a pragamtic and flexible approach, paving the way to a SP or BSP government formed with the support of the Congress.

The BJP's stated position is again one of staying out of coalition games because the Hindutva party wants to strike it big in the next round of assembly election – the long term plan – and also stregthen its position for the 2014 parliamentary election. This is also the impression that the Congress has of the BJP strategy. A Congress leader speaking on condition of anonymity said that the BJP would stay out, and that leaves room the room open for Congress to ally either with the SP or BSP. It might be difficult for the BJP to remain politically aloof without losing ground to its archrival, the Congress.

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