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Its stock taking time on the UPA-Left standoff. The CPM, after the meeting of the 85-member Central Committee, today stuck to its stand on the nuclear deal, but toned down its threat to the Manmohan Singh government, or so it seems to the mainstream media. So what exactly did Karat say

“The Central Committee does not want the current crisis to affect the government,”

But then it came with a rider.

“this is contingent upon the government not proceeding further with the agreement”.

While some in the media see this as some kind of softening what Prakash Karat is really saying is it is time for the Congress to weigh the cost of preserving Manmohan Singh’s adamancy against the cost of fresh elections. Karat’s gauntlet to Manmohan packaged in a conciliatory tone draws strength from the carte blanche he got from the Central Committee

“take whatever necessary measures to see that the agreement is not operationalised”

As we hit a week after the UPA was put on Life Support the contours of the next election whenever it is likely to be held are beginning to emerge. In yesterday’s post Offstumped analyzed the CPM’s expansion strategy and how it is attempting to frame the debate and drawing the BJP into following suit. Today the Indian Express carried an interesting piece on the Prime Minister’s Office attempting to push for a debate on the Rajinder Sachar Committee Report on the state of Muslims and welfare measures in response to the same. While the fast tracking of the Sachar Report is not surprising the UPA thinking behind it is interesting

If this can be pulled off, UPA leaders say, it will also help cement the frayed bond between the Left and the Congress as it was on the basis of a fundamental anti-BJP plank that the UPA was formed. Apart from isolating the BJP, the government hopes this will also serve to gently remind the Left of the state of Muslims in CPI-M ruled states.

In yesterday’s post Offstumped posed the question to the BJP that if it has to have a serious shot at power it must define the next election around issues that make it about the BJP versus the rest. Well it looks like the UPA is intent on lending a helping hand here for the BJP. With Sonia Gandhi’s intervention in Maharashtra at the behest of Muslim groups to take action on the SriKrishna Commission Report, the Congress has unwittingly handed the BJP-Shiv Sena combine a potent issue to re-unite against a common foe. If the UPA Government at the Center were to further persist with its Muslim Entitlement Agenda in the build up to elections the BJP’s task will likely become much simpler in making the next election about it versus the rest. The Muslim Entitlement Agenda though has some risks for the BJP. It is a potential wedge issue within the NDA with present allies like the JD-U, Trinamul Congress and former allies like the TDP likely to pursue politics of competitive minorytism. It will take some creative thinking on the part of the BJP to pre-empt competitive minorytism within its fold of allies.

We wrap up stock taking of the week after life support with some friday levity thanks to Medha Patkar and her cohorts writing in rediff.com

we as representatives of people’s movements must reiterate our stand, which is that the deal is not just anti-democratic but against peace, and against environmentally sustainable energy generation and self-reliant economic development

Looks like Medha missed out adding Global Warming, Narmada Bachao and blaming Narendra Modi as well in good measure while she was at it.

Offstumped Bottomline: The Left as predicted is lobbing the ball back in to the Congress’ court. Week after Life Support it is decision time for Sonia Gandhi.

Can she convince poll wary allies and MPs to take the gamble or will she wilt to undermine the Prime Minister’s authority paving the way to the end of the Manmohan Singh Premiership ?

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/2007/08/23/week-after-life-support/#comments

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