ne day or the other, a marriage of convenience will come to an end. And that’s what happened in Indian politics on Wednesday when the Left parties withdrew their support to the Congress-led Central government. Despite the political ideology differences when the Left parties backed the Congress party who became the single largest party in the 2004 general elections to form the government, many doubted the survival of such a government. The only motive behind such a decision was to keep away the communal Bharatiya Janata Party coming to power. With this sole intention Left offered outside support to Congress to form United Progressive Alliance government.
And the Left parties never fall short off its responsibility of keeping away the communal forces to take advantage and come to power. In that sense the Left has done a commendable job. In their cat and mouse race they helped the government almost to complete the term. (ten more months left to finish the five-year term). But when it comes to the responsibility towards the millions of people, they were a failure as much as the Congress party who boasted of serving the Aam Admi or Common People.
The Left support to the Congress-led government was based on the Common Minimum Programme, which binded the two which were always at loggerheads (Common Minimum Programme or CMP has become an inevitable exercise in India since coalition politics began!).
The very introduction of CMP states: “The people of India have voted decisively in the 14th Lok Sabha elections for secular, progressive forces, for parties wedded to the welfare of farmers, agricultural labour, weavers, workers and weaker sections of society, for parties irrevocably committed to the daily well-being of the common man across the country. In keeping with this mandate, the Congress, its pre-poll allies that include the RJD, DMK, NCP, PMK, TRS, JMM, LJP, MDMK, AIMIM, PDP, IUML, RPI (A), RPI (G) and KC(J) have come together to form a United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The UPA government supported by the Left Parties will have six basic principles for governance.”
Of the six policies, the most important responsibility of the Left parties was “to preserve, protect and promote social harmony and to enforce the law without fear or favour to deal with all obscurantist and fundamentalist element who seek to disturb social amity and peace.”
Here comes the formation of a government of convenience. Though Congress got an unexpected majority in the polls it badly needed the support of Left parties who won 59 seats in the general elections to sustain the government and escape the threat BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or NDA might pose later. Thus to keep away the common enemy the Left who won 59 seats in the general elections agreed to support Congress party to come to power. As in a 400-member parliament their number is quite low the left decided to stay out of power. Thus the UPA government came to power on May 22, 2004 under the leadership of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi with Manmohan Singh as the prime minister.
And all these four years the Left guarded the Congress government forgetting its “role”. For both the parties cared not for the people, but for clinging to power. They were unwilling to slip the five-letter privilege to the opposition BJP. Now as the general polls are approaching the Left came out of their role of guarding; and Congress from their cunning silence to make happen their hidden intentions. And the wild card for both was the Indo-US nuclear deal.
In four years of UPA rule, the Left has failed to get a decisive hold over a government, which exists out of their support. They missed the opportunity to prove that they are the real Lefts. Often they acted like the Rightists with an inclination to the Leftist ideology. Is it all for the stability of the government? Then what about the stability of governing?
They never rose above the responsibility of keeping the government to set the priorities of the common man in their agenda. They could have utilised the Congress party to their tunes for the benefit of the entire nation. It was a rare chance for the party that has been losing its charm among the common people got a major role in the nation’s decision-making exercise.
But the nation saw how the pied-piper himself became a tool in the hands of its own predators. Like the Congress party, they too proved they are only interested in nuclear deal. Though the government has now become a minority losing the support from the Leftist, they can pass the controversial deal with the support of other small, yet important parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Lok Dal etc.
Simply speaking, the Left here once again failed to understand the extreme game the Congress party is able to play for its intention. In their formal withdrawal letter to the President Prathibha Patil the party stated, “We do not want to be party to a government who has forgetten its responsibility to its people.”
This is not the first time the Left has faced such an awkward situation from the Congress. When the prices of essential commodities rose, when petroleum charges increased, when the government started selling the shares of successful public enterprises, when farm suicides increased, when women in the national capital city became the targets for antisocials, when crime rates shot up, when terrorist attack monitored by inside groups rather than outsiders...what did the Left do? They failed to make the government act for the people. And now they make the people believe that the nuke deal has pricked their conscience too much. Or is it simply as washing off their hands without coming to a conclusion and decision?
On one thing the Left parties and their stand has to be appreciated. A country like India does not want a third party intrusion into the development of its nuclear capabilities. But the Indian political masterminds know; which the Left is obviously not interested; this is the time to make the hay while the sunshines. And the Left has become a party to that – knowingly, unknowingly. They paved ways for political trading in the central seat of power, in the national capital.