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As BJP sharpens its knife, PM goes to Pranab for help

Last updated on: April 20, 2013 23:58 IST

PM goes to Pranab for help

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The long meeting between President Pranab and the PM comes amid a heightened threat perception that the UPA government may not be able to complete its term, says Renu Mittal

Two days before the second part of the budget session kicks off in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee had a three-hour one-on-one meeting where a host of issues -- Parliamentary politics, Lok Sabha elections as well as matters of government and business -- were reportedly discussed.

Dr Singh drove to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday and discussed various issues with the President over a lengthy lunch.

With allies either withdrawing support from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition or threatening to withdraw support, there is a great deal of worry in the government over the survival of the Dr Singh-led government

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani has already declared that the party will not co-operate in the second half of the budget session and it will not support the passage of any bills.

Just a few days ago, the BJP had agreed in an all-party meeting to support the passage of the Land Acquisition Bill, which is considered crucial by the ruling party as it is part of its agenda to woo farmers.

Before he moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukerjee was considered the chief trouble shooter and main political advisor of both the Congress party and the government, with all major crisis situations being handled by him.

After becoming the President, he has considerably curtailed the role of advisor, but he frequently meets the PM and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in an informal manner to discuss various key issues.

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Image: Pranab Mukherjee with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: Reuters

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PM goes to Pranab for help

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The long meeting between President Pranab and the PM comes amid a heightened threat perception that the UPA government may not be able to complete its term and it may be forced to face the Parliamentary poll by November this year.

Meanwhile, the PM is in the thick of a controversy over the coal-gate scam, with the BJP all set to raise the issue of Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar's direct interference and attempt to influence the Central Bureau of Investigation over its report to the Supreme Court, on the issue of granting coal licenses during a period when Dr Singh also doubled up as the coal minister.

This issue will be raked up by the BJP on the very first day of the second half of the budget session -- April 22.
 
The BJP has also decided to turn the Joint Parliamentary Committee's report on the 2G spectrum allocation into a huge issue of corruption.

The fact that the leaked draft report puts the entire blame on former telecom minister A Raja, while giving a clean chit to Dr Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, is being seen as an one-sided view of the spectrum issue.

Some BJP leaders claim that the draft report seems to be a joke in view of the available evidence.

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Image: Pranab Mukherjee, flanked by UPA leaders and the PM, files his nomination for the President's post
Photographs: PIB

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PM goes to Pranab for help

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Raja is all set to give a 100-page explanation to the JPC, where he will detail the role of the prime minister and finance minister and make it clear that all his actions were taken with the knowledge and consent of Dr Singh.

BJP leaders, meanwhile, said they would attend the next meeting of the JPC but will record their view and their strong dissent over the one-sided report.

During this session, the government needs to pass the Finance Bill and if the opposition refuses to cooperate, it may lead to more chaos in the House.

The Food Security Bill is also ready to be presented in Parliament but it needs to be passed by the state governments first.

While a consensus has emerged over the bill, sources say that with Advani threatening non-cooperation in Parliament, it is unclear whether the BJP will continue supporting the bill.

The Congress is looking to shop for allies in some crucial states, say sources. The party also has to decide its stance on the creation of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh, whether to continue its alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu and consider teaming up with either the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal before the election or the Left Front after it.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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PM goes to Pranab for help

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The brutal rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi has further fuelled public anger against the government. Opposition parties are bound to bring up the issue in Parliament.

While the prime minister has already expressed anguish at this incident, the President and vice president have also issued strong statements against the incident. 

With all these issues worrying the ruling party and the government looking at ways to refurbish its sagging image, Mukherjee seems to be the best bet for the Congress to trudge through crises at a time when the prime minister finds himself inadequate, say government sources.

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Image: Demonstrators shout slogans against increasing rape cases in Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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