The Yadavs have a strategy
There has been a lot of speculation why the two Yadavs—Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad—have dropped the idea of moving a no confidence motion against the UPA government following the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. News reports quoting Mulayam have said that he had given up the idea since he had only 21 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, Lalu was quoted as saying that he has only four members so there was no question of moving a No Trust vote.
The two Yadavs are both clever and seasoned politicians. Both of them have been Chief Ministers and both know that by getting the controversial bill passed, the UPA has inadvertently re-surrected them. They will be the greatest beneficiaries of the muslim vote since virtually most muslims cutting accross party lines were not in favour of the Bill and if some of them voted in its favour it was only because of a Whip issued by political parties.
The number game has started in the Lok Sabha and the UPA government by getting the Bill passed in the mid budget session has unnecessarily made itself vulnerable. It has now to get the budget passed. In fact, the failure to secure majority votes on any of the money bills can lead to the fall of the government. This is the reason why the two Yadavs do not need to move a no trust motion at all. During the Budget session, all money bills amount to a trust vote and it is always important for the government to ensure that it has the right numbers present in the lower House. This naturally requires a lot of political management and floor coordination, which the Congress is not known for doing since the last few years. It has exposed itself to danger and needs to be extra vigilant for the survival of its government.
The situation is such that as per rough estimates, the government at present has a very slender majority. This majority can undergo a change depending on how the floor managers handle the issues as they arise. Though on the face of it, the 21 members of Samajawadi Party and four of RJD may look very less, but in fact they could help in tilting the balance against this government at an appropriate time. If to save itself, Congress has to do business with Mayawati’s BSP, the UP Chief Minister will demand a very heavy price for supporting the government at the time of its need.
In any case when the game gets closer in the numbers game and a situation arises which leads to a division in the Lok Sabha, the time for being extremely alert is not far away. After the division, the government of the day has to constantly worry about getting the right numbers on its side and its ability to govern can get impacted.
I am not suggesting that the government is going to fall but circumstances have been created which could have endangered the survival of this government. The onus is now for the UPA’s managers to take suitable action and ensure that smaller parties and players who may sound irrelevant on the face of it are also contacted and kept in good humour. The government has to realize that nothing comes free. It should therefore be prepared to pay the price for the Women’s Reservations Bill if it is not extra cautious.