Anyone would think that it was Amar Singhs birthday that was imminent,not Mayawatis. Hes certainly having a whale of a time,occupying the headlines as if theyre his by right. Over the past weekend alone several different incidents have kept him,and the media,busy,one after the other. On Friday,he was arrested. (For most people,this is enough to constitute a busy weekend,but Amar Singh is not most people.) He was arrested protesting against the arrest of those the UP police believed were responsible for the horrific rape of an MBA student in Noida recently; and,with his customary disdain for caution he announced that those arrested were innocent and that there had been a cover-up. On Saturday,he released the names of 17 more Samajwadi Party nominees for parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh,while complaining that local Congress leaders were continually insulting him and the SP. And,on Sunday,for a pleasant finale to a nice winter weekend,he released with much fanfare recordings that he said were of Bahujan Samaj Party members conspiring to launder money.
This sort of weekend is not unusual for the SPs gadfly general secretary. Indeed,it wasnt even an
unusual set of days the Thursday before this weekend,he threatened to withdraw support to the UPA over terrorism,and then,hours later,announced that the home minister,instead,deserved encomium. What lies beneath this busy buzzing is,however,unusual and interesting. The SP and its leaders are making a lot of noise in an attempt to obscure their acceptance of the need for an alliance with
the Congress in UP ahead of the general elections. While it is difficult to say that the noise needs to be welcomed,the underlying shift certainly should be welcomed.
The SP is one of the last hold-outs of the post-1989 fragmentation of our polity,one that led to instability and excessive power in the hands of marginal actors. That the SP
appears to have accepted the need to move towards a stable two-party system in every state and at the Centre is something that is worthy of applause and of emulation by other regional parties. There is absolutely no guarantee that in the future Amar Singh will not make headline-grabbing statements,release CDs that expose what he says are dark,dastardly deeds,or get himself arrested. But,as long as his party accepts that the future of Indian politics requires responsibility on a macro level,none of us should be unduly worried.