Troublesome allies turn UPA’s saviours

The washed out Monsoon Session of Parliament had a silver lining for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Written by Swaraj Thapa | Published:September 11, 2012 2:19 am

The washed out Monsoon Session of Parliament had a silver lining for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — the good behaviour of UPA partners,who for a change,restrained themselves from adding to the government’s troubles.

From tugging hard at the UPA’s cohesiveness barely two months ago,the allies stood firmly behind the Congress in thwarting Opposition moves to destabilise the government by seeking Singh’s resignation over the coal block allocations. While Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee rebuffed the BJP’s attempts to court her,the NCP and the DMK too did not play into the Opposition’s hands.

Setting up the UPA coordination committee — now a permanent feature of the coalition — played a key role in narrowing differences as also Sonia Gandhi’s decision to despatch Defence Minister A K Antony to Kolkata to talk to Banerjee. Although it would be ambitious to expect her support on issues such as FDI in retail or the Land Acquisition Bill yet,the Trinamool benches remaining quiet during the Monsoon Session was certainly a respite for the government. Finance Minister P Chidambaram is also reworking a package deal for West Bengal,for which he will soon meet state Finance Minister Amit Mitra.

The NCP,whose threat to pull out had topped the Congress’s troubles with its partners in July,is expected to be compensated with a ministerial berth for its nominee Tariq Anwar. A state-level coordination committee for Maharashtra has already been set up as demanded. The DMK too is expected to benefit in the ensuing Cabinet reshuffle. It was briefly upset over Sri Lankan soldiers being trained near Chennai,but the Centre moved quickly to shift them to Karnataka.

Quite possibly it was this knowledge that the allies are firmly behind it which led the government to reject any negotiations with the BJP to end the impasse in Parliament. Leader of the House Sushilkumar Shinde held two meetings with BJP leaders,but instead of seeking any trade-off,he only sought their cooperation in passing Bills. “If someone is sleeping,you can wake him up. But if someone is pretending to sleep,what can you do,” a senior minister said,suggesting the BJP had made up its mind to push for the Prime Minister’s resignation,leaving no scope for negotiations.

swaraj.thapa@expressindia.com

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