A strange malaise has hit several leaders in Delhi. It has been christened 'Primeministeritis', an affliction which has no cure. It is a very clever...

A strange malaise has hit several leaders in Delhi. It has been christened 'Primeministeritis', an affliction which has no cure. It is a very clever and apt coinage by the famous journalist and erstwhile editor in chief of 'Outlook', Vinod Mehta. Many leaders are directly or indirectly vying for the Delhi gaddi in the near future.

Narendra Modi is making all the right noises to claim his right over it, without being explicit. Congress on the other hand is sending all the signals about their future prime minister's choice without any ambiguity. Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel and any number of Congress leaders are singing the same song in unison for long. It is an unambiguous chorus. Yuvaraj Rahul Gandhi is already waiting in the wings to wear the crown.

Now the new aspirant in the run is Mulayam Singh, though he is not explicit in his utterances in so many words. He criticized his own son, admired BJP leader L.K.Advani while championing the role of the savior of the present dispensation at Delhi, which is already on ventilator.

But Mayawati has no qualms whatsoever. She offers the sky to the people who would put her on the throne of Prime Minister. And then our very own, beloved Manmohan Singh. He is 81, but still says that the prime ministership for the third term of UPA is hypothetical. Does it mean he wouldn't mind another term? Truly the disease 'primeministeritis' has no cure. One has to suffer the process and then everyone has to suffer the prime minister.

It is the writing on the wall. In a weird political scenario like ours, a team breaker can be a king maker. Or better still, he can be the king. Delhi nowadays is the typical Kurukshetra of mythological days. We have any number of Sakunis to devour the spoils of the fractured political system. Everybody is certain about one fact. The present government at Delhi is very fragile and brittle with taciturn partners and fringe groups converging helplessly at the brim. It may collapse at the mere whim of any political party.

But whose plug will it be and who will do it first is the million dollar question. The first contribution to this sordid drama- which started at least 18 months ago- came from none other than the DMK.A But why? DMK 'survived' in the UPA, not because of the emotional allegiance, but because of the helpless inevitability. A minister from his party was unceremoniously sent to jail- though it is known that the PM has all the knowledge of the shady affair that went into the mind boggling scam and then the leader's daughter was in jail for 10 months. But it persisted in the 'mixed bag' at Delhi, writhing in anger and anguish as it had no choice.

And then the great debacle at the state elections followed. Something that did not happen to the Dravidian party in the last few decades. DMK was not even reckoned as the main opposition in the state. The frustration was total and deep. A The party was isolated. The occasional noises made by its octogenarian leader are but a few apologies to an otherwise muted presence. How can it make its presence felt? Or its existence meaningful in UPA?

How can it muster a reasonable support from an already disgusted and disillusioned voter. Using the Tamil sentiment? Encashing the anti- Sri Lanka sentiment? It is a face-saving exercise, to say the least, but DMK has nothing to lose, even if it has nothing to gain in the process. A Hence, it pulled the first plug, an act of desperation and bravado exhibited, though the party knew that it could be symbolic and there could be several plugs that matter before the main coalition collapses at the centre. It is also a strange irony that 15 years ago the same Congress pulled down Gujral's government demanding the withdrawal of DMK ministers.

It is now DMK's turn. It is judiciously prescribed that the political parties should have short memory particularly when the coalition drama- not dharma- is imperative. A In comes Mulayam Singh. Or is it Mayawatiji? Or Mamataji? Three M's that can make or mar the party (pun intended). Everybody knew- as everybody can surmise, that nobody can afford an election at this time. So, keeping the present 'fractured' coalition on ventilator is the inevitable order of the day. Everybody knew that the patient is dying but they want to time the demise on their terms. Everybody is cautious. They have 12 months to bleed the present dispensation on their price.

Mayawati is thinking of a few more statues? Mulayam is trying for the main chair at the centre. Or perhaps, a sizable purse to Mamataji? Already Akhilesh has demanded 72,000 crores besides 45,000 crores promised earlier. Each has their own dimension of the pound of flesh they seek.

Mulayam is the key player. He has promised that he would not be the first person to pull the plug although he is certain that the elections would happen in November. What does he mean? If he is certain about his support, how can he predict the eventual collapse? Is he sensing that somebody else might do the final rites? He has pelted his first stone on his son's rule- a manoeuvre aimed at a bigger goal or perhaps a 'role' in mind. Priministeritis, after all is viral.

The poor Congress has its own share of woes- not to talk about the glorious scams- Commonwealth, 2G, Armsgate, Delhi rape, Adarsh scam etc. etc. 232 is the miserable number in a house of 540. A The zing of rhetoric lost in everybody's voice nowadays and they know the writing on the wall, more than anybody. It is their respective priorities that would decide the final denouement. A In a fragile, fragmented state of affairs- the present government survives on day to day basis, drawing oxygen from the fringe elements- and in this coalition milieu the good governance is the biggest calamity. But, of course, since when had we experienced it?

Does it mean he wouldn't mind another term? Truly the disease 'primeministeritis' has no cure. One has to suffer the process and then A everyone has to suffer the prime minister. It is the writing on the wall


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