BJP exploited Congress blunder
Rajesh Ramachandran in New Delhi
The Congress has goofed up in its attempt to stall the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Speaker's election.
"The Congress foisted Purno A Sangma on the United Front,'' BJP national treasurer Ved Prakash Goel told Rediff On the NeT. ''This made the Telugu Desam Party drift towards us. If the Congress had played its game discreetly and allowed the UF to announce the candidate, we might have been left with no option but to go for the consensus option."
Senior Congress leaders, too, feel they should not have allowed the TDP to wrest the initiative. Opposition leader Sharad Pawar should not have announced Sangma's candidature unilaterally, they said.
"When we met informally, Congress and UF leaders were confidant that we would have around 273 members on our side,'' said a Congress leader. ''There was a lack of planning."
What cost the Congress dear was its inability to see the ground realities. Swearing that the Congress was his 'enemy number one', Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been against any truck with that party.
Though the Congress was against backing a TDP nominee for the post, it expected Naidu's support in the Speaker's election. In fact, expecting such support, Sangma announced that he would remain in the fray only if he was the House's unanimous choice.
But the Congress jumped the gun and announced Sangma's candidature. It made the BJP's task of convincing the TDP easier. The latter joined the Treasury benches this morning.
The Congress and the UF have accused the Vajpayee government of manipulating the Speaker's non-partisan office as a bargaining counter for converting a minority government into a majority one.
A joint statement issued by the Congress and UF leaders
said the hollowness of Vajpayee's call for consensus has been thoroughly exposed in less than 24 hours by the 'politics
of deception and doublespeak'.
The leaders made it clear that, if this attitude continued, it would
be difficult for the Opposition to extend co-operation in running
Pawar and UF spokesman S Jaipal Reddy
announced that there would be floor coordination between the
Congress, UF and all parties opposed to the BJP's policies and programmes.
Pawar said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Lal Khurana should not treat national politics as a municipal issue and that he should not have acted 'irresponsibly' as he did yesterday.
Additional reportage: UNI
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