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Will UPA opt for year-end general election?

April 10, 2013 22:51 IST

Following the fallout with the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and given the uneasy relationship with the Samajwadi Party, rumours are abound that the now-vulnerable UPA may very well go the general election way, says Sunita Moga

Delhi’s corridors of power are currently abuzz with reports that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government may not wait to go to the polls in 2014 and could instead opt for year-end general election.

The UPA government, by its own admission, is in a minority after the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam walked out of the ruling coalition last month. But there is no immediate threat to the government as no opposition party is in a mood to pull it down.

In fact, the principal opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has gone on record to say it has no plans to move a no-confidence against the government as it would like it to be thoroughly discredited before it hits the election trail.

The government itself is putting up a brave face, saying it will be able to rustle up the numbers despite its minority status. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently told mediapersons that the UPA government would last its full term.

Essentially, the UPA government is depending on the reluctance of the opposition parties to go into an early election and the critical outside support extended to it by the Mulayum Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.

Despite its show of bravado, Congress leaders privately admit that it is going to become increasingly difficult to run the government in the coming days. The present dispensation is fragile and given the uneasy relationship between the SP and the Congress, there is no
certainty about the longevity of the ruling combine.

There is an emerging view in the Congress that it should not wait for the government to be pulled down and should instead call the next election at the time of its own choosing.

“The fact is we don’t have the numbers and it is going to be extremely difficult to run the
government,” remarked a Congress minister.

It is being suggested that the Lok Sabha polls be clubbed with the year-end assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. A view is expected to be firmed up after the results of the May 5 Karnataka assembly polls.

It will also depend on how the government fares in the second half of the budget session which commences on May 22. It is entirely possible that the ruling combine is able to come out unscathed this time but the monsoon session in August will prove to be crucial. A clearer picture will emerge at that time.

Well aware that the Congress is now vulnerable and dependent on its support, the SP has been acting tough after the DMK parted company with the UPA government.

The SP had recently taken strong objection to Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s scathing comments about Mulayum’s  and demanded that the minister be dropped from the Cabinet. Although the SP is no longer threatening to pull down the UPA dispensation, the Congress is not in a happy position.

Like the DMK, which used the sensitive Sri Lankan Tamils issue to leave the UPA government, the SP is also on the look out for a “saleable” issue to dump the ruling combine.

The Congress is getting increasingly discredited and as the Lok Sabha election draws a close, its allies will be looking for a good election issue to distance themselves from the grand old party.

It is all the more imperative for the SP to distance itself from the Congress as the two parties are fighting each other in Uttar Pradesh. The SP may not like to delay the inevitable as its government in Uttar Pradesh has lost is initial sheen and it could end up ceding ground to its political rival, the BSP.

Mayawati is maintaining a studied silence for the time being, preferring instead to consolidate her party in UP.

The SP would also like to pull out of the government when it is sure that its downfall is certain. It will not help Mulayum Singh Yadav if the Congress is able to do business with some other party and survive even after it parts company with it.

Sunita Moga in New Delhi