DR Manmoahan Singh led UPA II, which has been accused of indulging in “politics of blackmail” is now at the receiving end. Delivering a body blow to the government the Trinamul Congress chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee finally pulled the plug. Her decision to walk out has reduced the ruling coalition of the day to a working minority with a strength of 254 MPs in the Lok Sabha, which is 18 less than the half way mark.
Alarm bells are ringing in the government, as it is not merely the Trinamul but DMK with 18 MPs have also given a signal to join the Bharat Bandh against the policies of the Manmohan Singh government. The DMK supremo, M. Karunanidhi has gone on record saying that it was “keeping all options open.”
The government which has been hopping from one crisis to another, from one corruption case to another is now fighting hard for survival. The Centre has no option but to survive on the crutches of Samajwadis and BSP. And the government is fully aware that its turn for blackmailing the allies is over. It’s time for being blackmailed. Without the support of SP and BSP, the government will simply collapse and the country will head for a snap poll.
When in power, Congress has always been known for its arrogance. The BJP was constrained to pull-out its members from JPC, after the committee refused to allow the outfit to speak on the list of witnesses to be called. The BJP wanted the JPC to call the Prime Minister, his former aide, TKA Nair.
It was the anti-graft crusader, Anna Hazare, who triggered the movement against the so-called “corrupt government.” Along with Anna rose his team, which included Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan. As the movement gained momentum, something went wrong somewhere. Kejriwal pushed the movement towards electoral politics, while Anna-the Gandhian wanted only a clean movement to cleanse the system. After 18 months in which the team came together to run a high steam anti-graft movement, had a vertical split. Hazare differed with Kejriwal and the Bhushan on the issue of forming a political party.
Backed by activists including Kiran Bedi and Justice Santosh Hegde, Hazare told the other group during the nine-hour deliberations that they were free to form a political party but cannot use his name or photo for their campaign.
The ruling coalition, particularly the Congress is all pleased with the disintegration of the Hazare team, which was emerging as a formidable foe.
However, what stunned the government was Mamata’s walk out. Hammered by the global media for being “weak” and “non-performing” the Prime Minister decided to go ahead with reforms. Backed by India Inc and buckling under the US pressure, the Prime Minister struck at the working class. It went for unprecedented diesel price hike, capped use of the subsidies cooking gas cylinders, opened FDI in retail.
The government was certain that none of its allies, particularly Trinamul Congress will pull the plug. The strategists in the UPA were certain that at best, the Trinamul will quit the government and extend outside support.
Catching the government by surprise, the Trinamul chief withdrew support and went on to accuse the UPA II of indulging in “politics of blackmail.” She lashed out:
“Whenever it has problems with Mayawati, it turns to Mulayam. When it has problems with Mulayam, it goes to Nitish Kumar of JD(U). This government is like that.” She also claimed that “our’s is the second-largest constituent but we were never shown minimal respect by the government and had not been consulted on important decisions,” she said.
An angry Ms Banerjee questioned the timing of the announcement of the recent economic reform decision. “Is it correct that the FDI gate has been launched to divert attention from the coalgate?” she asked
And this is exactly what SP chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav was waiting for. SP leader, Ramgopal Yadav, even though distanced from Ms Banerjee, he pointed finger at the Congress. He said that the government was in crisis, simply because of its contempt for the allies. And then he cautioned: “If there is a question of government’s survival, our chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav will take a final decision.” Mulayam Singh Yadav is reportedly in touch with DMK, NCP over the issue. The Congress, which has been known for its “contempt for the allies,” is now at the mercy of its allies.
Also this lame duck government is now completely vulnerable. The Congress leaders at the headquarters speak in hushed voices of the impending danger and failure of its leadership to contain the damage being done to the party’s image. Behind the closed doors, there is hardly any top Congress leader, who shows any confidence in the leadership of the party’s PM in waiting—Rahul Gandhi.
If the Twitter is any indication then Rahul Gandhi is in for serious trouble. The urban India seemed to have rejected him completely. In rural India, he has failed to strike the right cord. That the Congress desperately seeking a way out becomes somewhat evident with the party continuing to describe Mamata Banerjee as a “valuable ally”.
Sensing trouble, Congress president and UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi is not in favour of her son being inducted to Manmohan Singh ministry in the impending Cabinet reshuffle. Instead she is in favour of her getting a bigger role (officially) in the organisation.
However, even as the Congress continues to grope in the dark, the worst hit in the UPA-II innings is none other than the Dr Manmohan Singh. His global image lay shattered, his attempts to push for reforms is in danger and the man himself is in danger of going down in the history of national politics as the weakest Prime Minister ever.