Yet another dilemma for the Congress
Problems seem to be unending for the Congress which faces its biggest test in Uttar Pradesh during the Assembly elections. Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi who is leading the campaign to dislodge UP chief minister Mayawati and in the process regaining some lost ground for the Congress has come under attack from other political outfits. His remarks that people from Uttar Pradesh should make their state self reliant and not be seen as begging (for jobs) in states like Maharashtra, have not gone down well with the general people.
The Congress claims that the other parties were twisting the observation out of context and needlessly creating confusion. However, other parties have compared the remark with a similar observation made by Rahul’s father, late Rajiv Gandhi in the early days of his Prime Ministership in the mid eighties when he said while predicting the fate of his opponents that “hum unko unki naani yaad dila denge’’. The controversial begging statement has invoked sharp criticism from all quarters but it is not the remark but the aggressive Congress campaign in UP which must be worrying party managers at the Centre.
Rahul Gandhi has made a frontal attack on Mayawati and his supporters including some ministers bashed up Samajwadi workers when they were protesting at Phulpur after his helicopter landed. While Rahul has all the right to criticize his rivals in the state, but the rivals are viewing the incidents on the first day of the campaign as very provocative. The worry for the party will be that if the BJP was to bring a no confidence motion on the issue of corruption or price rise in the winter session of Parliament, the UPA government will find it very difficult to defend its majority.
The UPA strength on its own is below the required majority mark and it is the notional support from the two UP parties, which wards off possible threats from parties such as the BJP. But in changed circumstances, the BSP and SP may not necessarily bail the UPA out if it gets into some sort of trouble. It will require some very intelligent floor coordination by the Congress to ensure that the challenge to the government is overcome.
In addition, the UPA will have to face a difficult job of defending its position on several issues from Pranab/PMO/Government note on 2G and a host of other matters. The Lok Pal bill will also hang over its head with Team Anna and Anna himself crying hoarse for its adoption. I will be really surprised if the Lok Pal Bill gets passed in the winter session. The government, which is facing a credibility crisis, has a lot to prove in the coming days and its continuation will primarily depend on how its political managers meet the challenge. For the Congress and the UPA, difficult days lie ahead.