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Hard decisions, uncertain future

Shortly after all six ministers from Trinamool Congress — the second largest constituent of UPA — resigned from the government and withdrew support of the party’s 19 Lok Sabha members to the ruling coalition, prime minister Manmohan Singh made a rare televised address to the nation.

Never known for his eloquence, the PM appeared a bit discomfited, but his words — though spoken mechanically — rang loud and clear. This was Manmohan the economist, not Manmohan the PM. The man who laid the foundation of India’s enlightened economy was handed an unenviable task while in the company of some unenviable allies. After coming out of the government’s scam-induced stupor, in the last few days Dr Singh has gone on a rampage with reforms. Allies who were happy to tag along with a corruption-riddled government decided to pull the plug when the leadership showed signs of coming out of a coma.

With Mamata gone, Congress’ friend in need has appeared in the form of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who till a few days ago was dropping hints regarding formation of a viable alternative to both UPA and NDA. His remarks during the party’s annual convention in Kolkata recently were not flattering for Congress — the party that is opposing SP in Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati-led BSP cannot remain aloof at this juncture either as it desperately needs the ruling combine’s support at the centre to prepare for the general elections, which with the new developments may take place a lot sooner than 2014.

Even if the government survives the immediate crisis, replacing Mamata with Mulayam is unlikely to ease concerns, as even the latter is likely to demand his pound of flesh – if he already hasn’t – for bailing out UPA. So the focus once again is on numbers – the wrong kind in these inflationary times. Like someone said, “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.” 

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