Saturday, July 19, 2008

India’s Congress NOW NO DIFFERENT

f just for three votes a government decides to name an airport in the name of a small party leader’s father, why can’t we also try our luck in politics? This question might have propped up in the minds of every Indian and those who heard about the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) offer to Ajit Singh, the leader of Rashtriya Lok Dal. Many a time, Indian psyche has been put into this “irresistible pressure” of joining politics. But they know it’s a platform where angels fear to tread in, but only the most “intelligent” can survive.

July 17 will be an unforgettable day in the life of Ajit Singh. Congress swooped down to Ajit Singh’s demand of naming Amausi airport in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in the name of his late father and former prime minister Chaudhari Charan Singh.
However, it is not difficult to understand the realpolitik behind this political charity of Congress party. Congress is simply paying back to Ajit Singh for what they did to his father, Chaudhary Charan Singh, the 7th prime minister of India who could manage to occupy the position only for a few weeks.

Congress led Charan Singh to power lending their support after the Emergency period, which has been considered as the darkest chapter of Indian history. But a few weeks later Congress toppled the government to make way for a general election. Thus Charan Singh became the first prime minister who was forced to seek trust vote in parliament to prove majority. Congress pulled out their support a day before he was supposed to convene the parliament for the first time.

The same Congress party became instrumental for economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek trust vote losing its majority in parliament. There is no doubt that the Left parties withdrew their support to UPA because of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Above that it is the Congress move, especially the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s stand that Congress will sign the deal seeking the support of parliament that made things easier for Left parties to go ahead with their decision. Thus Congress has dug their own grave and the rest is history.

It should be remembered that no prime minister has succeeded in winning a vote of confidence on the floor of the House. And also never had any Opposition been able to bring down a government through a no-confidence motion. Manmohan Singh is the sixth prime minister to seek a vote of confidence. Let us not forget the other prime ministers, VP Singh and Deve Gowda, who were pulled down by the Congress. When the BJP withdrew support to VP Singh led government over the Babri Masjid issue, Congress joined the communal forces to bring down his coalition government on Nov.7, 1990. Later on April 11, Deve Gowda whom Congress is wooing now was toppled by Congress for the simple reason he did not delink himself from his DMK partner for an alleged role in the assassination of prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Now DMK is ruling Tamil Nadu with the support of Congress. Moreover, they supported Congress for the government’s formation in Delhi. So if history repeats, the chances of survival for the Congress party at the Centre is slim. There is still time left for the party to avoid the embarrassment of failing in the vote by resigning and go for the polls.
But the N-DEAL! The party is ready to risk everything for that coveted deal with US of which, according to Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi, “the future generation will realise the value.” Last not the least, the bravado of Manmohan Singh to seek a vote of confidence is highly admirable. And kudos to the brilliance shown by LK Advani led opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) who did not come up with a no-confidence motion. For they learn lessons from the days gone back.

With just two days left for the D-day of trust vote, confidence eludes Congress. Leaders try to pacify themselves repeating the statement “we will win the confidence vote.” In real life, it is easy to boost confidence believing in one’s own capabilities. But in politics it’s the numbers that give you confidence. In the 543-member parliament UPA needs the magic number of 272. As of now Congress is assured of 257 votes (If Samajwadi Party does not change its stand). If Ajit Singh backs the number will rise to 260. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which has 6 members, also announced support. But the party leader Shibu Soren is yet to announce the decision formally. Adding the votes of JMM, the magic number for Congress falls short of just 6.

Now the Congress managers are in last ditch effort to gain support of other small, single member yet decisive parties like Marumalarchi Dravida Munneta Kazhakam (4) Janata Dal Secular (2), National Conference (2) Trinamool (1) and 6 independents. Congress loses a vote, as the member from Kerala Congress is yet to take his oath. The other important vote comes from the Left leader and Speaker Somnath Chatterjee who is opposing the Marxist stand to vote along with the communal BJP to pull out the government. But the Speaker is allowed to vote only if a tie happens.

So whatever be the outcome of the July 22 trust vote, it will be a historical moment. If the government loses the vote, history will be repeated. And if it survives, it will also be history. For Manmohan Singh could take the credit for winning the trust vote. 

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