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Why snap polls to LS cannot be ruled out!

Why snap polls to LS cannot be ruled out!
Highlights

Political circles in Delhi and the State capitals across the country are agog with rumours that the UPA-2 is gearing up for snap polls. Some of the...

k ramachandra murthyPolitical circles in Delhi and the State capitals across the country are agog with rumours that the UPA-2 is gearing up for snap polls. Some of the TJAC leaders who were in the national capital for three days in connection with the round table conference came back with an impression that no decision has been taken yet on Telangana and that the UPA government is planning to go for early polls.

The undue haste in getting the Food Security Ordinance signed by President Pranab Mukherjee the other day and the statement by Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in charge of the Congress party affairs in AP, that a decision on Telangana would be announced soon are seen as latest indications of the preparatory steps. The Centre wants to implement the Food Security Ordinance for some months before going to the people for votes. Quick and efficacious results are not possible through parliament route; hence, the urgency in seeing the ordinance through.

Digvijay Singh is perceived as one who is not inclined to back the demand for a separate state of Telangana. He has been making all kinds of comments which can be interpreted according to individual preferences. So are statements concerning T by other leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. Only Sonia is said to be in favour of keeping the T word, given on her birthday more than three years back. Ahmed Patel, her political adviser, reportedly shares her perception. In any case, it is a political decision that has to be taken by Sonia Gandhi. Whatever be her decision, it will find ready acceptance among senior Congress leaders, especially those comprising the core committee.

The Federal Front (FF) is still an amorphous idea. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, president of Trinamool Congress, spoke to Vijayamma, honorary president of YSRCP, on Sunday to alert the latter about the likelihood of early polls to the Lok Sabha and solicit her support for the FF. The BJP spokesperson Ananta Kumar said on Monday that his party was ready for a snap poll to the Lok Sabha and would make development and governance its main agenda.

The Youth Brigade, headed by Rahul Gandhi, AICC Vice-President, is seen as keen on going for elections to the Lok Sabha in November, along with polls to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan Assemblies. The objective is to have a head start before Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is being bandied about as the prime ministerial candidate ever since he was made the BJP election committee chief, gets going. Secret surveys suggest that Modi, if given time, would play the BC card to improve his profile and appeal, while addressing a series of meetings to assure the farming community that, unlike the UPA, he would stand by them.

The 3-D holographic projection technology and other hi-tech methods that Modi successfully employed in Gujarat during electioneering and in reaching out to the people of Bihar -- the turf of his b�te noire Nitish Kumar, without even having to go there, has had a very encouraging response. He is planning to replicate this novel, tech-enhanced campaign model all over the country. He seems to also have the tacit approval of the RSS leadership to project himself as the future leader of the party and the country.

LK Advani, the patriarch who briefly played a jealous rival to his one-time prot�g� Modi, has been persuaded by Mohan Bhagawat, chief of RSS, to bless Modi and desist from doing or saying anything that could send 'wrong signals' to the people. Modi is keen on winning over internal adversaries before taking on external ones. The Congress does not want to give Modi time for implementing this strategy.

Though the proposal of FF has not many takers today, with the main players talking in incoherent voices, Mamata Banerjee, as is her wont, has been unrelenting and single-minded in pursuing the idea. Mulayam Singh, the Samajwadi Party chief who was in Kolkata recently, did not say anything concrete about the FF. There has been no communication so far between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Mamata who are not known to be very friendly. Jayalalithaa has gone on record that Modi is her good friend. Navin Patnaik of Odisha has been consistent in his views on FF.

Mayawati will be there only if Mulayam is not going to be there. In any case, Mayawati, or, for that matter, even Mulayam or Jayalalithaa, would not be enthusiastic to make a fellow regional party leader a prime minister. For, every one of them fancies herself or himself as prime minister material. All these leaders are agreeable to work either with the UPA formation or the NDA, going by recent experiences. Navin may not think of NDA and Mamata would be averse to any tie-up with the UPA, since the latest enemy is considered the greatest enemy. The role of Chandrababu Naidu would depend ultimately on the number of LS seats he is going to get in the general election. YS Jaganmohan Reddy's YSRCP can be counted out if Naidu is in.

The Congress party is confident of bagging LS seats anywhere between its worst tally of 114 in 1999 and its best score of 206 in 2009. It may not be able to better its best, but it is sure that it would manage not to end up with a figure that would be worse than its poorest show so far. It now has in its kitty Nitish Kumar's JD(U) in Bihar along with the JMM in Jharkhand. Things in Karnataka are far better than what they were in 2009. The new Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah has begun well and is sure to deliver more Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka for the Congress than it ever had in recent decades. Navin's Biju Janata Dal can be counted upon. Jayalalithaa can be won over with a good package for Tamil Nadu, though it would be difficult to retain her affection.

Sonia has proved over the years to be adept at using this mechanism. The Congress high command appears to be sure to maintain its strength in AP by further weakening Chandrababu Naidu and his TDP. The latest episode of T drama unveiled by Digvijay Singh is meant to try and make Naidu more and more irrelevant. Since YSRCP cannot support NDA whatever LS seats are won by that party would accrue to the UPA by some arrangement through the good offices of many a common friend.

The urgency in finding a solution to the Telangana tangle is a consequence of the strategy to go for early polls. The Congress high command has asked Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha to submit roadmaps both for a separate State of Telangana and a united Andhra Pradesh. Botcha has already visited Delhi. Damodar is going there in a couple of days. Kiran Reddy also has been meeting leaders from Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra.

The roadmaps will not be much different from the respective stands they have taken earlier. Kiran would want to continue to be chief minister of united AP and Damodar would like a separate Telangana. Apparently the high command's move is more to force the leaders to commit in writing than to get enlightened. The Congress core committee would be meeting on the 12th and the 19th. Reliable sources say the T issue may come up for thorough discussion on the 19th. Its core committee is said to be open on the issue.

The Food Security Ordinance will have to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament which has to begin on July 24, as things stand today, to bring an Act in place of the ordinance. The Food Security Bill was opposed by the BJP and the Left parties, which had insisted on many changes that are required to be introduced. The SP, which is supporting the UPA-II from outside, is dead against the Bill which it describes as 'anti-farmer'.

Amidst all this, the Bill is sure to be defeated on the floor of the House. That would be a humiliating way to go out of office and prepare for election. Instead, it is thought that going for early elections by avoiding monsoon session of parliament would be a good idea. The ordinance can be renewed if parliament stands dissolved and elections are announced.

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