By Kalyani Shankar
It is said that a week is long in politics. The current week has shown how true it is. While the doubting Thomases were speculating about the stability of the UPA 2 when the budget session began, it is clear now that no party wants to face an election. It is remarkable how the political parties behave when it comes to protecting their own interests.
Take the case of Trinamool Congress with its 19 members. West Bengal Chief Minister and the Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee threw a tantrum against raising the railway fare and insisted on a roll back last week. The then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi earned the wrath of his party leader who would not be satisfied unless he was sacked. The drama continued over the week- end with Mamata descending in the capital to make sure that she got her way. Now that her demands were met on the replacement of railway minister as well as the Prime Minister’s assurance that he will consult the chief ministers on the controversial NCTC, the Trinamool chief seems to have piped down. The TMC did not vote with the opposition on the NCTC. After her whirlwind visit to the capital, Mamata is now singing a different tune playing the role of a reasonable ally. In various interviews she had given in the capital she has made it clear that she is not for snap polls or for breaking alliance with the Congress. Although there is no guarantee this temporary peace may continue, the Congress is happy that the storm is over.
The other sulking ally DMK with its 18 seats has fallen in line after the Prime Minister announced in Parliament that the government was inclined to vote with the US on the Sri Lankan resolution in the UN. The DMK had demanded that New Delhi should vote with the US condemning the human rights violation in Sri Lanka. The DMK ministers were absent on the budget day. The DMK even planned to withdraw its ministers from the cabinet, an extreme step in view of its present political position. Had the DMK gone ahead to snap ties, it would have had to face serious troubles fighting both the centre and the state. However, the timely announcement has changed the situation with the result the danger has been averted.
As for the two regional parties from Uttar Pradesh, they have now become the lifeline to the UPA government to bail out on the NCTC amendment sponsored by the opposition. There were speculations that the SP may join the UPA after its huge success in the recent UP polls. The SP chief Mulayam Singh had clarified that while the party is not considering joining the UPA but he would support the government to keep the communal forces out. Why did the SP take such a decision? . Obviously there is a predominant view in his party that aligning with the Congress at this point of time when the Congress fared badly in the state is not a good political move. The SP would rather wait until the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Secondly, Mulayam is facing the disproportionate assets cases and he requires help from the centre regarding CBI investigation. Thirdly, the SP would like the new chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to settle down before picking up any fight with the Congress.
The BSP has 21 MPs in Lok Sabha and the BSP supremo Mayawati has made it clear after her party’s defeat by opting to come to Rajya Sabha so that she would play a bigger role in the national politics. The BSP too supported the UPA while voting on the NCTC in Rajya Sabha although it walked out in Lok Sabha. Out of political compulsions the BSP would remain with the UPA supporting from outside as it has been doing. Mayawati has two reasons to do so. The first is her own disproportionate assets case and she would need the centre’s support as the centre has the control of the CBI investigating her case. The second is that since she has lost the polls, she cannot fight both the centre and state. It is good politics to be on the right side of the centre.
A surprise support has come from the BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance when he said his party is willing to support key economic bills and his party will not block them. The BJP too has realized that it is not the right time for polls.
Why is this sudden realization that the government should not fall? First of all no party wants to face elections. So the UPA allies were only positioning themselves for a better bargaining. This is true of the TMC, DMK and also SP and the BSP.
Secondly, the opposition is in no position to form an alternate government, as it would mean regrouping of parties. There is no strong leader to replace the present government. Thirdly the opposition too is not ready to face elections. There is no opposition unity and no one is taking lead to form a new front.
The Congress must heave a sigh of relief at this development. To keep its allies in good humor, the Parliamentary affairs ministers is even planning to hold a thrice a week meeting to thrash out the issues. If this works, it will resolve the complaints from the allies that they have been neglected.
As JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav puts it, it is clear that several parties are competing with other to keep the government stable. NCP leader Praful Patel echoed it when he claimed that this government would remain in power until 2014. It is for the Congress to ensure now that it commits no blunders to disturb its stability. (IPA Service)