The tale of four M’s
Strange are the ways the Congress functions. It provokes its allies, it pinpricks them. And when they see their own boat rocking, they rush to mollify them.
It’s rather strange. If UPA II believes that FDI in retail can be compromised with, then they should have held the meeting yesterday itself when Mamata was holding talks with her party MPs. Huddling in a discussion a day later appears meaningless to me.
Yes, they can churn out a face saving formula for the equally mercurial allies from North, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, enabling them to continue their outside support to the tottering government at the Centre.
I doubt if Mulayam, despite all the ills of political ambivalence, can continue support to UPA till it relents, bends backwards to accommodate his wishes, which includes a rollback. Even he has taken a strong stand against FDI in retail and called for UP bandh.
And if the UPA was willing to compromise its reform agenda to keep the government afloat, it should have done it yesterday.
Where was the need for Chidambaram to make a statement that there can’t be any compromise on their new reform agenda on the day Mamata was to meet? Perhaps the Congress thought reforms would clear the scam blot from its face and the party will partly recover its image!
I am not going into the merits and demerits of their reform agenda, but it is certainly not seen as an issue on which the Congress can muster some public support or sympathy. The general masses neither understand its pros and cons, nor do they trust the Congress which had hiked prices to a towering level.
May be the Congress would have done better by kick-starting debate on FDI in retail before rolling it out. It would have been better than rolling in back.
Now that Mamata has taken such a hard stand, now that the left has put her government under the scanner on the issue, the rollback looks easier for the Congress than for Mamata.
Why should the Congress act, then wait for the allies to react?