Are we headed for early polls?
Speculation of an early Lok Sabha poll has been sparked off by the withdrawal of support by the DMK and political pundits are already predicting that a period of political instability may have begun.
Senior UPA ministers have claimed that there was no danger to the government as of now since no one has so far challenged the numbers backing the Manmohan Singh ministry.
However, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the government had been reduced to a minority after the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee had pulled out last year and now with the DMK also doing the same, the numbers have further gone down.
Yes, if the UPA has managed to keep afloat it is primarily because the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which account for 43 MPs amongst themselves, are providing notional support from outside.
The second reason is that the BJP, the principal opposition party has not challenged the UPA on the floor of the House by moving a no confidence motion under rule 195 out of fear that the regional parties may gang up in the name of opposing communalism and defeat the motion.
This would thus provide both legitimacy and a lease of life to the government.
But many social activists including Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal have alleged in the past that a section of the BJP was hand in glove with a section of the Congress and thus there was no imminent danger to the government.
The question, which has arisen after the DMK withdrawal of support, is not as much about the survival and stability of the government as it is of what could happen in the future.
The Congress has been losing credibility over a period of time and the same goes for its government at the Centre. Its managers have to come out with a political strategy to ward off the looming crisis.
This strategy has to have both short term and long term components as the next couple of years could actually see a period of instability coming about notwithstanding whether elections are held this year or later.
It is becoming increasing clear that the Congress faces the prospects of its worst performance in a Lok Sabha election and therefore has to figure out how to keep itself relevant in the political scenario which is fast emerging.
As stated in my article in HT on December 22 last year, the Congress may itself be compelled to go for an early election later this year.
This is because the grand old party is pitted against the BJP in a direct contest in four states in November and cannot afford to take any risks.
The risk is in form of a loss in all the four states-Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Chattisgarh.
If it loses, it will be a non-starter in the parliamentary poll next year and it will be in the party’s interests to have the Lok Sabha elections either along with these states or before them. This is naturally a call of the Congress High Command.
The ability of the Congress managers to sustain a minority government is also suspect and sooner or later, the truth will have to be faced.
Both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati will try to take as much as they can from the UPA but there has to be a point where the government has to decide enough is enough.
Secondly, the unreasonable demands by regional parties to influence India’s foreign policy have to also stop at some stage. Otherwise there is no end to this.
The country comes first followed by its citizens. It is not easy to comment on citizens of others countries, especially in the immediate neighborhood whatever the compulsions may be.
Overall, elections seem to be the only solution to address problems that are arising now.
If one election does not solve these problems, another one may have to follow. A single party rule is any day better than a coalition government and big parties should strive towards that objective to bring about stability.