Will Rahul’s stand divide the UPA?



Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has come out as the victor after his party’s core committee and the Union cabinet bowed down to his wishes and recommended that the controversial ordinance be withdrawn. However, the UPA allies are seemingly unhappy with the developments and have decided to back the Prime Minister while expressing concern how a single individual could force the government to review the considered decision of the Union cabinet. In the larger interests, the cabinet has withdrawn the ordinance and decided to kill the Bill that is pending in Parliament.

It is very evident that Rahul has emerged as the new power centre in his party but simultaneously, the Congress allies do not endorse his muscle flexing. The NCP, which runs the Maharashtra government along with the Congress and is an ally at the Centre, wants the grand old party to convene a meeting of the UPA coordination committee immediately. The fear of the allies is that unless their concurrence is sought, the Congress should not try to reverse decisions, which have already been agreed upon. Earlier too, the UPA allies have complained that the Congress had always behaved as the big brother and had never allowed the views of its partners to matter in the decision making. Even the core committee, which obviously has, now become redundant following Rahul’s attack, does not have even a single member from amongst the allies.

Rahul Gandhi by his action has sent a clear signal to his own party that the powerful coterie around his mother, Sonia Gandhi was no longer going to call the shots and he and his team would henceforth be setting the agenda. But he has evidently rubbed the Prime Minister the wrong way and it is for the first time that Manmohan Singh on his way back from the United States categorically stated that he would not resign come what may. This stand was uncharacteristic in many ways as the Prime Minister is very mild in his reactions and does not take aggressive postures. He was very hurt by what had happened in New Delhi just before he was to meet President Obama in Washington and he has let his displeasure known in the right quarters of his party.

What seems to be emerging is that the Prime Minister is now banking on the UPA allies to stand with him as he deals with leaders of his own organization. If things can be settled and ironed out smoothly well and good but he appears determined not to be humiliated any further.

So far as the Ordinance goes, senior Congress leaders have been at pains to explain that the diktat was against the policy of the party as reflected in a document on electoral reforms approved by both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi before being sent to the Law commission. It is being said that a committee comprising Veera Moily, Ambika Soni, Manohar Singh Gill, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Nacchappan and Mohan Gopal prepared this document. In fact, the first recommendation talks against granting tickets to convicted persons and those with criminal background. What is surprising is that a report of this committee had been ignored while discussing the Ordinance.

What is being said in Rahul’s defence is that he simply reiterated the party’s stand. But than politics is not an easy game. The Congress will have to bear the consequences of the way the entire ordinance controversy has played out. While Rahul has come out victorious, others who were party to the decision are being seen in very poor light. In any case, the last is yet to be heard on this controversy.

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