Dr. Manmohan Singh government at the centre has driven itself into a crisis following the withdrawal of support by the Left. Obviously, the Congress has deliberately created this situation, practically pushing the Left to the brink. The kind of unholy and immoral corporate muscle flexing and bargain for support from even single-member outfits the Congress has entered to sustain the Manmohan government have no redeeming feature. Rather it will further reduce the electability of the Congress in public eye. Hence it remains inexplicable as to why the party precipitated the situation.
The CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has reasons to be fuming. He has accused the Congress of humiliating his party and betraying its trust. He is right. The Congress did not extend the courtesy of showing the Left the original draft of the deal. It is a public document. Every member of the NSG and IAEA is privy to the document. It is on the IAEA website since July 9th night. First the Congress lied to the CPM that it is a secret document and that only the cabinet could be shown the original document. Then it said it will approach the IAEA only after securing the approval of the Parliament. This the External Affairs Minister reiterated in a press conference. Within 24 hours it contradicted its own minister by going to the IAEA and the document getting circulated to the member nations. Clearly, the government meant to slight the Left. But why? Is the Congress so fed up with the Left shenanigans?
It is not explained why the Congress acted in this fashion. Is the party under such pressure from some unknown quarters to push the deal through without caring for the consequences? The Left has been foolish enough in extending its support to the Congress in the name of keeping the BJP out to run the government?almost like a single party?though it has only 142 members in the 543-member Lok Sabha. True. There was a Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The Indo-US nuclear deal was not part of it. It was really cozy for the Congress with too many portfolios and spoils of power to distribute around too few members. Then why did the Congress upset the applecart? Again inexplicable. And the record of the UPA government in office is not even average that it can afford to discard the ladder. That is why for any expert political observer the Congress hara-kiri does not make sense. Yet it has challenged Karat and declared itself a single-agenda government and invited the agony of pleading and begging for support from all and sundry. It is willing to pay a heavy price too. Has the Left been so nagging for Sonia as to prefer this plight to their assured parliamentary security?
The UPA government has been reduced to a minority. Now the Congress is bargaining with every single Member of Parliament to save its government and save the nuclear deal. If Dr Singh was so committed to finalise the deal why did he wait for so long? With the time-frame at his disposal it is not certain that the deal will finally come through. There are at least three major hurdles before the US can put its stamp of approval before that country goes to the presidential election.
The first major test for Dr Singh is to get the parliamentary support for the deal. A minority government sustained by the unpredictable support of parties like SP, RJD, JD(S) and JMM with an assortment of independents can only inspire ridicule, not confidence especially when with such brazen abandon it is displaying its misplaced priorities. Dr. Singh has reduced his government ultimately to the status of a single item government at a time when the nation is hit hard by backbreaking inflation, price rise, scarcity and mismanagement. The economy is going downhill, with experts predicting fears of a stagflation. The UPA has nothing to show at the end of its term with only nine months left for the polls.
Its own allies are afraid of facing the voter. That is one sure reason for its desire to complete its full term even at the cost of accepting humiliating conditions of Samajwadi Party, wooing desperate one and two MP charlatans like Ajit Singh and Deve Gowda and even seeking the support of known anti-deal outfits like PDP and Muslim League. All this Dr Manmohan Singh could have done 18 months ago when it became clear that there was no way the Left can go along on the deal. After precipitating a crisis last year asking the Left to shut up and get out on the deal, Dr Singh like a typically timid leader, backtracked and said, the heavens will not fall if the deal was not signed. Then why has he again precipitated the present situation? Is he under tremendous pressure from the US to clear the deal? Or is he trying to divert the public attention from his monumental failure on the economic front? Or perhaps he is afraid that if the deal also is not signed there will be nothing left as his prime ministerial legacy when the UPA demits office.
In any case, the whole exercise smacks of crass opportunism. It is a cynical bargain that he has entered into with Amar Singh. The SP was always opposed to the deal like the CPI(M). Even its allies like Lalu Yadav and Karunanidhi have often said that deal is not the priority, the government is. Then why did Singh stake the government for the deal? It is also well known that the deal is not a popular issue with the masses.
The end of the opportunistic alliance between the Left and the Congress came after a long and acrimonious public display of mutual frustration.
A daily has reported that out of 300 odd press statements issued by the CPI(M) in the last four years majority of them criticised the government and almost fifty of them concerned the Indo-US nuclear deal. Practically there is no meeting ground between the Left and the Congress but their mutual antipathy for the BJP. The states where the Left is strong its main rival is the Congress. So from the beginning, the UPA-Left alliance was an opportunistic one knitted on negativism. In fact the Left has tied itself in knots by following a policy of political untouchability, and it was desperate to distance itself from the failed UPA sufficiently early to face the electorate in the general election. The poor record of the Manmohan Singh government, it is feared, is bound to have its impact on the political fortunes of the Left.