A head of the 10-week long Parliament session, the desperate UPA government has bought peace with its estranged allies, a trend which, sources said, is going to continue in view of the tenuous political realities.
The elections of President, Vice President and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha apart from passing the finance bill are litmus tests for the UPA. It is in minority in the Rajya Sabha and cannot take any chances in Lok Sabha where it doesn’t have a majority of its own. It needs SP or BSP or TMC for survival.
The UPA persuaded the belligerent TMC leader Mamata Banerjee not to attend the swearing-in-ceremonies of UPA rivals in Chandigarh and Lucknow by promising huge funds for West Bengal, sources said. In a simultaneous move, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to roll back the decision taken by him earlier banning cotton export. A depressed-looking Sharma announced that he will abide by the decision.
This was done to keep Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar happy who publicly opposed the ban. Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has also been promised some extra budgetary support to the ministry.
The government decided to work hard to placate its allies as signals surfaced that Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav may have developed prime ministerial ambitions. He has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha and decided to play a national role rather than be the Chief Minister in Lucknow. Mulayam’s trusted lieutenant Azam Khan gave vent to the feeling by declaring that there is nothing wrong if this was the desire.
Though BSP leader Mayawati is set to come to the Rajya Sabha in the March 30 polls and play a role in national politics, she may not rock the UPA’s boat immediately. Yet the Congress doesn’t have the comfort though it has a bare majority if TMC deserts. Therefore, all might was put behind to keep Mamata away from the Chandigarh ceremony of Parkash Singh Badal. But Navin Patnaik of Orissa, J Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh may come together and are in favour of mid-term polls and embarrass the government during the budget session in a big way.