Off-stage action

The SP’s talk of the next election only highlights the UPA’s loss of initiative

Written by The Indian Express | Published: September 14, 2012 3:33:20 am

In Kolkata at a Samajwadi Party convention,Mulayam Singh Yadav rained many blows on the UPA for the several corruption scandals on its watch. He expressed the belief that a general election was imminent,after which the SP would position itself for a bigger role at the Centre. He made a show of meeting the UPA’s problem ally,Mamata Banerjee,and announced that his party was still very much in opposition to the Congress. While this new positioning drew attention,the Congress would be right in not feeling terribly threatened by Mulayam Singh’s fighting words. He was,after all,addressing his cadre,rallying them for a new fight.

The truth is that Yadav has a far more zigzag approach to the UPA than he now professes — the SP has been a committed opponent in UP and a semi-insider in Delhi. Over the course of the UPA’s tenure,the SP has bailed out the UPA in crucial moments,from the Indo-US nuclear deal to the presidential polls. On the UPA’s third anniversary in May,he even held up the coalition’s report card on the dais. It is also true that this is fickle support,and Yadav,like all the other regional forces hoping for a non-Congress,non-BJP verdict,has his eye firmly on the main chance,in the next government.

The real news is not what Yadav said in Kolkata,however,but why that rhetoric resounds widely. It is because of the UPA’s silence and the hollow echo chamber of national politics. Yadav,Banerjee and Jayalalithaa are all readying their strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha election,after fresh victories in their states. In 2012,a long countdown has already begun for the next government,only because the UPA has failed to assert itself with a constructive agenda. Whether it is the presidential election or the controversy over coal allocation,other parties are seizing the opportunities to choreograph their larger moves while the UPA remains passive and silent. It can barely be heard over the din created by others,its will falters before every reform. It seems content merely to raise an idea,be it retail reform or coal auctions,and then sit back,thwarted,when it faces some opposition it can later blame. The UPA’s inability to be an active,resourceful government and command attention is the

only reason all eyes are focused on the cast of characters waiting in the wings.

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