OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

The inevitable has finally happened with the Left not budging on its stance on the Ind-US Nuclear Deal. The Left Front has said that it is firmly united that the deal is unacceptable. Senior Left leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday. The Congress, meanwhile, is maintaining that the nuclear deal was negotiated keeping in mind India’s interests first and foremost. The meeting, which was held at the Prime Minister’s 7, Race Course Road residence, was also attended by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee is emerging the Party’s crisis manager leading efforts to round up other members of the UPA like RJD’s Lalu Yadav. Mukherjee is also expected to further leverage his relations with Left leaders in Bengal to find middle ground. Meanwhile the BJP has called for the Left to bite and not just bark.

Here is Offstumped’s assessment of the political scenario as it stands today.

The UPA-Left marriage is over for all practical purposes. This Government is now on Life Support. How long before the tube is removed and euthanasia is peformed will depend on two factors.

The first is the Congress’ objective of accelerating Rahul Gandhi’s internship so the succession issue is settled and the party goes to polls with the next generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as its face.

The second is the Left’s objective of cutting its losses and ensuring its leverage manifested by the 60 odd Lok Sabha Seats is preserved at best while ensuring the party does not go to polls with a BJP on the rise post a Narendra Modi win in Gujarat.

So the Life Support is essentially the least common denominator of what it takes to get done Rahul Gandhi’s internship and what it takes for the Left to duck anti-incumbency in Kerala and Bengal before the BJP starts to make gains.

So what can we expect while this Life Support is on. A high probability of a Manmohan Singh exit from the office of Prime Minister followed by Pranab Mukherjee taking over as interim Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi’s induction as Congress General Secretary and possibly a junior Cabinet position. A series of tactical concessions by the Congress to keep the Life Support going as long as it can. One can also in the meantime expect a series of hard left issues the Communists will pursue to shore up the base in Kerala and Bengal so expect the centrist issues to take a backburner in these states.

Here is the most important thing however. Jyoti Basu implied it when he said the Left will not withdraw support. What exactly did he imply ?

One must pay attention to what the Left is not saying.

The Left is not saying it will not let the Government fall come what may. The Left is not saying it will always try to save the Government.

The Left is merely saying it, the Left, would not be the one to pull the plug, and hence by implication what the Left is saying is that it the ball will always be in the Congress’ court and it the Left will not take the blame should the Government fall on account of the Congress dropping the ball.

So one can expect the Left to put the Congress on the mat on issue after issue going forward and it will always be the Congress that will have to choose between a tactical compromise or mid-term polls.

What lessons do we take from these sequence of events ?

The first lesson is that despite the myth propogated by the mainstream media of the apparent centrist drift of the Left and its natural bonding with the Congress, the stark reality is the Left continues to be wedded to an anachronistic worldview that has no elements of centricity to it and is very much to the Hard Left. In this anachronistic worldview National Interest is sub-ordinated to its ideology and Non-Alignment means Alignment to those wedded to its ideology. The Left continues to be very much communist at heart and Anti-National in its worldview.

The second lesson is for the Congress and the BJP which will continue to run Minority governments for the foreseeable future. Strategic Change cannot be propelled by the wisdom of few good men/women alone. Strategic Change must be accompanied by both Institutional Support inside and outside the Government at all levels as well as a Political Constituency that benefits directly from it.

It was foolish of the Manmohan Singh Government to have staked its reputation and India’s credibility in this agreement without being assured of either the Insitutional Support  from all sides and without having created a Political Constituency in support of this deal. After all it was a Minority Government that functioned at the pleasure of the Communists and the insecurity of its Party President.

Offstumped Bottomline: The UPA Government is on Life Support. Between Rahul Gandhi’s internship and the Communist’s assessment of their chances in mid-term polls lies the least common denominator that will keep this Life Support going. Elections in Gujarat may very well end up being the point at which this Life Support ends.


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