Monthly Articles
VOLUME 23 Issue 268 (June 2009)

UPA Again

The electoral verdict in the recently-held elections to the Lok Sabha has gone in favour of UPA with Congress as the major leading partner. However, this time the composition of the constituents of the UPA is slightly different from what it was in 2004. The RJO has been replaced by Trinamool Congress led by Ms Mamta Bannerji.

This is again a coalition in which the Congress is likely to buckle under pressure from its allies like Trinamool  Congress and DMK on different issues. Trinamool Congress is in a 'victory' mood and it would like the Left Front in West Bengal to be dismissed as early as possible so that the way is paved for the assembly elections and it can hope of making hay while the sun shines.

The DMK can do arm twisting on the issue of Tamils in Sri Lanka to keep its domestic constituency in good humour. The coalition partners come together on the issue of sharing power and they get divided on the same issue. Any way, it is not going to be a smooth sail for the Congress despite its improved tally of seats because the proverbial Damocles' Sword of withdrawal of support will continue to hang on it.

The Left Front and the BJP are down and not out Both pose a formidable challenge for the Congress in their respective strongholds. The Left Front has lost in its traditional strongholds of WestBengal and Kerala for altogether different reasons and the Front can bounce back.

The situation in West Bengalis not easy for the Congress either where it has to face Trinamool Congress and the Left Front. If the Congress Trinamool alliance continues unhampered, then both can hope of making further inroads into the CPM citadel but even minor fissures in the alliance can be dangerous for the both.

In the Hindi heartland, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, UP, and Bihar, the Congress has to concentrate whole-heartedly to improve its electoral fortunes in the ensuing assembly polls. The JD(U) has shown its mettle in recent Lok Sabha elections and its alliance with the BJP will help garner additional advantage. The Congress leadership in the state is weak.

 Similar situation is faced by the Congress in UP and Madhya Pradesh. Mayawati's BSP and Mulayam Singh-led SP are reckonable forces in their respective areas and are unlikely to be trounced easily. Sonia - Rahul charisma is no panacea for enfeebled party network and absence of effective local leadership. In recent years, the regional satraps have strengthened their grassroots and in the ensuing assembly elections to some of these states, Congress will be required to work very hard to strengthen its base. Revamping of the Congress organization along with the induction of young talented and dedicated persons is the need of the hour. Apart trom regaining its lost political ground, the Congress has to regain the people's confidence.

Rahul Gandhi's hard campaigning and electoral strategy has paid good dividends and this momentum has to be maintained with added enthusiasm. The UPA government has got the verdict to continue with its past policies. However, it is essential for the UPA allies not to forget the Aam Adami which has brought them back to the corridors of power. Poverty alleviation programmes, both in rural and urban areas, social welfare activities, opening new avenues of employment and not to take subterfuge under so-called financial crisis, keeping prices under control and not to neglect the agricultural sector under external pressure, etc., are some of the priority areas that require urgent attention.

The Congress being a major party has to shoulder a major responsibility because the other partners are mostly regional satraps who have gained victory on other planks and they may not seem serious in implementing the people-oriented program is while the Congress can ill-afford to neglect such issues that concern Aam Adami.

Thus the onus is more on the Congress than other constituent partners of the UPA. Rahul Gandhi, who seems to be a Prime-Minister-in-waiting till 2014, has to strive very hard by rejuvenating the Party at the grassroots level throughout the country, especially in the Hindi heartland which sends bulk number of MPs to the Lok Sabha. The Congress culture till date has been such that the apex leadership has to earn every seat to remain at the helm of affairs. And the young Rahul will have to go through this ritual to attain his cherished goal.

Babuddin Khan
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