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Home > India > News > PTI

UPA @ 4: Drifting allies and shifting equations

May 21, 2008 13:34 IST

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Mounting inflation and the stalled Indo-US nuclear deal haunt the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition government as it enters the final year in office on Thursday and gears up to face the next elections.

With both friends and foes warning that spiralling prices of essential commodities might sound the 'death knell' for the Manmohan Singh [Images] government, reining in inflation will be a task for the UPA to accomplish to escape the ire of voters.

As the government is caught in the web of coalition politics, the Congress-led UPA has to do a tight-rope walk so as not to annoy its Left partners and at the same time keep the voters in good humour by containing inflation.

The Left parties, which provide the crucial outside prop to the government, are opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal and the Centre has so far hit a roadblock to get their endorsements.

The Left parties have also joined the opposition in slamming the government on the price rise front. The UPA will come out with the yearly 'Report to the People' to present its achievements during its four year tenure.

As the government headed by the economist-turned-politician braces for the challenges ahead, Congress is of the view that coalition has never been an option, but a compulsion for the party.

But, UPA ally Rashtriya Janata Dal feels the grand old party should observe coalition 'dharma', realising that the government at the Centre was not of Congress, but of UPA.

Lalu Prasad's party made these remarks after the government rushed through the Women's Reservation Bill without consulting the allies.

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, the Congress is cosying up to Samajwadi Party and the bonhomie has been reflected in the invitation to Mulayam Singh's party for UPA's dinner meet on Thursday.

The UPA has organised the dinner at the prime minister's residence to mark the completion of four years of the coalition government at the Centre. Interestingly, leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party, which does not get along well with the SP, have also been invited for the anniversary celebrations.

Congress and SP are of late coming closer after BSP's victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections last year with Chief Minister Mayawati attacking both on several issues.

Mulayam Singh had recently lashed out at Mayawati for being 'ungrateful' to the UPA government by criticising it. The SP had withdrawn support to the Congress-led coalition at the Centre ahead of the UP polls last year and the Congress did a tit-for-tat in UP by withdrawing its support to the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government. Both were supporting each other from outside.

Incidentally, the first UPA dinner in 2004 at Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's [Images] residence saw SP leader Amar Singh getting a cold reception. He had gone there along with the then Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary H S Surjeet.

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