New Delhi: With four days left for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, to face a parliamentary vote, the odds against the government appear to be mounting as an unlikely group of rivals gang up.
The Left parties, whose withdrawal of support led to the 22 July vote, are all set to team up with their bitter rival Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, in voting against the UPA, having found that each other’s enemy is now the same: the Congress party.
“The BJP’s sudden pro-active role” in wanting to see “the government’s fall is the reason why the tide has been turning against the UPA in the last two days,” claimed one member of the Left parties who didn’t want to be named.
The BJP, however, denies there is a coordinated effort, while insisting that the government will be defeated, and has stepped up its own role rather than let the Left attack the UPA over the India-US nuclear deal.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a vice-president of the BJP, claims it was clear from the beginning of the crisis that the UPA lacked the numbers to survive the trust vote.
“We are confident the government will fall on 22 July,” he said. “The Congress is equally sure about this, which is why Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi have increasingly begun to sound like martyrs in the cause of the so-called national interest. They are no longer talking about the agenda for the rest of the term because they know they will not survive beyond the 22nd.”
Naqvi said the BJP would not have any floor coordination with the Left to topple the government.
“We are only focusing on our National Democratic Alliance (NDA), besides an increasing number of independents who are flocking to our camp. It is not that the BJP has suddenly started trying harder to pull down the government. It is just that with the momentum turning against the UPA, the fence-sitters have started making up their minds to vote with us against the government.”
Meanwhile, even as the Congress party publicly maintains it will win the vote, key party representatives aren’t so sanguine.
“Some of the top leaders of the UPA are in a panic mode as there are a lot of persuasions and compulsions on MPs belonging to several parties,” said one Congress leader who didn’t want to be named.
He also alleged several members of Parliament are being wooed by companies.
In a related development, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, has ideologically justified its decision to vote alongside the BJP in the latest issue of its mouthpiece People’s Democracy.
“This objective is not and can never be contingent upon who else is voting against this government and for what reasons. There is a popular analogy: as a passenger in a train, one cannot determine or choose who the other co-passengers are. However, because of the co-passengers, one cannot abandon the objective of reaching one’s destination,” the editorial said.
Meanwhile, it appears that smaller political parties, which have been fence-sitters until now and are likely to play a crucial role in the vote, are expecting to cut deals.
Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, with three Lok Sabha seats, got a symbolic gift from the Union cabinet on Thursday when the Lucknow airport was renamed after his father and former prime minister, Chaudhary Charan Singh.
“It should have happened earlier,” maintained Singh. “These things will not affect my decision. I am a tough nut to crack.”
Singh also claimed that, for him, the trust vote was not about the nuclear deal but about electoral prospects.
“I do not agree with nuclear energy, we have better alternatives today,” he said. “This session of Parliament is not about the deal any more. Everyone is looking at how they can get into the Lok Sabha again.”
Hinting that an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party was also an option, Singh said: “Now the Mayawati factor has come in. I can’t decide without talking to the BSP.”
Singh will meet Telangana Rashtra Samiti representatives on Friday, who are acting as interlocutors with Mayawati. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister has already cast her lot with those opposing the UPA.
Ashish Sharma and Krishnamurthy Ramasubbu contributed to this story.