Rediff Navigator News


Capital Buzz

The Rediff Interview


The Rediff Poll


Crystal Ball

Click Here

The Rediff Special



Commentary/ Vir Sanghvi

1997: A year of political upheavals, midnight dramas, sudden resignations and declarations of withdrawal of support

I am sorry to begin the year on a pessimistic note but it doesn't look as though 1997 is going to be much better -- politically and economically -- than 1996. Or, to put it another way, things are going to get much worse before they start to improve.

It has long been my view that Sitaram Kesri has a four-phase agenda.

Phase one was to get himself elected as Congress president, no matter how many ankles he had to grab in the process. Phase two was to oust P V Narasimha Rao and have himself installed in his place.

That leaves phase three: to pull down the Deve Gowda government. And of course, there's phase four: to get himself made prime minister.

I refer to this as Kesri's own agenda because I'm not sure that the rest of the party agrees with him. Sharad Pawar would be quite happy accepting deputy prime minister and leading a Congress continent into the Cabinet. Pawar is smart enough to recognise that such a course of action would make him the preeminent politician of his generation and yet, leave Deve Gowda in place to take the blame for the failures of the government.

Such a course of action is not available to Kesri. He is 78. If he is going to be prime minister, then this is his last chance. Unlike Pawar, he cannot afford the luxury of waiting.

Therefore, he will waste no time in packing his bag, grabbing his Pomeranians and moving into Race Course Road before the party changes its mind.

Unfortunately , this will not be as easy as Kesri thinks it is.

With 147 seats in a House of 543, the Congress is a long way from an overall majority. It will probably get the support of the TMC-DMK, some Independents and a few regional parties but it is hard to see how it can cross the total figure of 200 seats, which will leave it at least 72 short of majority.

Kesri reckons that he can split the United Front and win over individual factions. But why, for instance, would Chandrababu Naidu, whom he has been cultivating, back the Congress? After all, the TDP opposes the Congress in Andhra Pradesh and Chandrababu is immune to the blandishments of a Cabinet post in Delhi. The CPI will almost certainly have grave reservations about joining a Congress government and no Congress prime minister in his senses would keep Indrajit Gupta on as home minister.


Home | News | Business | Sport | Movies | Chat
Travel | Planet X | Freedom | Computers

Copyright 1996 Rediff On The Net
All rights reserved