Opposition strikes as UPA unity euphoria is waning

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While the Opposition looks united for now, the UPA and its allies are not exactly friends. The support of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) can no longer be taken for granted. The united Opposition and the divided UPA do not as yet add up to political instability of any kind. UPA-2 government is in no mortal danger but it cannot hope to drive roughshod over its allies and the Opposition. This will force the UPA to listen to its allies and pay attention to the Opposition. It is now for the Opposition parties to keep doing the good work they are mandated to do — and keep the government on its toes.

In the last few days, Opposi-tion parties have managed to nail the government — Shashi Tharoor’s resignation was just the icing — several times. The proposed cut motion in the Finance Bill, a parliamentary practice to convey displeasure over the rise in prices, especially that of food grains, and the stringent criticism on the handling of the Maoist menace, especially in the wake of the killing of 76 CRPF personnel at Dantewada, has suddenly pushed the UPA government on the back foot. The euphoria of the 2009 election victory is now gone. Till recently, it seemed as if the Congress-led government was in a comfortable position – with a tally of 206 Lok Sabha seats — and without the pin-pricks of its Communist allies.

The Opposition parties seemed to be in a shambles, with the BJP being caught up in many inconsequential internal squabbles, and the Communists marginalized because of their reduced numbers in the Lok Sabha. But the turnaround has been swift. It is the BJP and the Commu-nists who are now relentlessly attacking the government. For a brief while, when the Women’s Reservation Bill was being introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress Party, the BJP and the Communists seemed to exude some bonhomie, but the unanimity did not extend to other issues.

The improvement in Opposition unity will, of course, allow the Congress to pretend that everybody is ganging up against the party and that anti-Congressism is the only ideology of its opponents. But that does not wash. While the Opposition looks united for now, the UPA and its allies are not exactly friends. First, the Women’s Reservation Bill drove a wedge between the Congress and the Yadavs. The support of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) can no longer be taken for granted. Second, the IPL controversy has opened up the fault-lines between the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The united Opposition and the divided UPA do not as yet add up to political instability of any kind. UPA-2 government is in no mortal danger, but it cannot hope to drive roughshod over its allies and the Opposition. The tensile situation is an indicator of healthy democratic politics. This will force the UPA to listen to its allies and pay attention to the Opposition. It is now for the Opposition parties to keep doing the good work they are mandated to do — and keep the government on its toes.

Courtesy: DNA India

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