Saturday, July 05, 2008

The progress on the nuclear deal

Who would have believed that something like this could happen even a month back ? When last year the Prime Minister had declared that his (actually, the Congress party of Sonia Gandhi) was not a one-issue Government, it was taken for granted that with the Left putting a veto on the nuclear deal, and with the allies unwilling to sacrifice the Government for a nuclear deal, the nuclear deal was as good as dead. And even recently, when the Government again raised the issue, it seemed like with the Left unwilling to back down, the deal would not happen, and the entire issue would be political posturing.
And then, suddenly, like a Jack in the Box suddenly popping out, the Congress and the Prime Minister appear to have outsmarted the Left. With the Left even otherwise not leaving a chance to criticize the Government over many issues, the Government must have been chafing at the tone used by the Left (the Congress, even in a coalition Government is never really tolerant of the people providing support). And the political movement by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party must have surprised the CPM and their other left brothers the maximum. They have been so used to being able to turn the heat on the Government that even the slightest hint of alternate support from the SP will be enough to make the Congress stand up and look the left in the eye.
And this is what precisely seems to have happened. The Congress will appreciate the support provided by the 39 MP's of the SP (vs. the 59 MP's of the Left); at the same time, the SP is in a bad state in its home state of Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati's political stars look to be continually on the rise, and the SP really needs an alliance to prevent the split of its votes. And one has to admire its political cunning - in order to avoid the charge of being anti-Muslim and get a reason for changing its stand to a nuclear-deal supporter, it used a meeting with APJ Kalam to showcase as a reason for changing its stand. He is a former President and a missile man, so his support is important to justify a change in stand, and he is a middle class and educated Muslim icon, so this will help mollify its Muslim base.
Where does this leave the Left ? It has an alltime high of 59 MP's, but Kerala is famous for changing its political mind quickly, and the Left suffered some major reversals in West Bengal local elections, thus ensuring that early next elections could see a much reduced Left MP count. Even now, it could almost seem like that they are no longer relevant.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:31 AM