The die has been cast. The government is now likely to be forced to prove its strength in Parliament. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already asked for a vote of confidence and the Left, too, is expected to reiterate this, even as the Left voting in favour of a BJP motion or vice versa could prove to be a strange sight.
The more important issue now is what all this means for governance, especially at a time when the economy is slowing and inflation is in double digits. If it does survive a vote of confidence—and that seems likely right now—just how much operating freedom will this government have?
The Samajwadi Party, its new ally, is demanding the removal of certain ministers and seeking special taxes on private oil companies. Ideological battles have been replaced by the murky politics of crony capitalism.
A cornered government faces a clear choice: Either it can be trapped in inaction or it can seize the opportunity to make up for lost time and pursue bold economic reforms. We hope it chooses the latter course.
And, meanwhile, let the Reserve Bank of India move more aggressively against the inflation dragon.