Relations to worsen
Relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), uneasy from the start, are likely to get choppier as assembly and Lok Sabha elections come closer and the two parties seek to expand their social base.delhi Updated: Oct 08, 2008 23:57 IST
Relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), uneasy from the start, are likely to get choppier as assembly and Lok Sabha elections come closer and the two parties seek to expand their social base.
Consider the way the two reacted to the communal violence in Orissa and Karnataka, and the Jamia Nagar encounter in Delhi. The SP, keen to add the muslim vote to its Yadav base, demanded a ban on the Bajrang Dal in the context of the former, and a judicial probe into the latter. Clearly the SP wants to exploit the perceived Congress inaction on these issues and further polarise Muslims and Hindus. And this suits the BJP just fine.
“The BJP uses communal polarisation to consolidate the Hindus and the SP the Muslims,’’ said a Congress leader, noting that parties like the RJD and the LJP also gain from such divides while competing for muslim support.
But he noted that Mayawati’s rise in UP, which had prompted the SP to back the UPA, remained a compulsion for the party. No surprise then, Mulayam Singh Yadav soon denied any intention to pull the plug on the Congress.
Unlike its regional partners, the Congress being a national party cannot take extreme positions. It needs to reduce any Muslim backlash while assuaging Hindu sentiments. But by remaining ambivalent it risks annoying both communities. So, the party either walks the tightrope or its leaders speak in different voices.
If it demands a ban on the Bajrang Dal, it also calls for stern action against all violent groups. Likewise, though Congressmen like Kapil Sibal have asked for a probe into the encounter, the party’s position is to leave the matter to PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. “It is too sensitive an issue to be politicized. The PM will take a judicious view,’’ said Digvijay Singh. But such ambivalence could prove costly in the polls.