The atmospherics seemed all right at the dinner to celebrate the third year of the UPA. Under a bit of a cloud a while it seemed to be promising the rainbow, as the government goes into its penultimate lap before the next elections, the party seemed upbeat after a long time. The Congress president was very positive and there is no denying that the economy did well, by and large, though that may not be the case as the months go by. In a symbolic gesture, Sonia Gandhi has shot down the plea from her MPs that they be allowed red beacons on their vehicles. This may not amount to much, but it seems to signal that the MPs must get down to work rather than seek privileges for themselves.
But perhaps the most significant aspect of UPA 2's dinner was its placement of seats, the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav getting pride of place in the proceedings. This is a clear signal to the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee that she may not be in a position to push the UPA around quite as much as she has done until now. In fact, it was significant that Ms Banerjee went so far as to say that, though she stayed away from the celebrations, she was keen to see the government through its full term and that she, the leader of a "small party" would only go when told to. But the UPA, which seemed to have developed a spring in its step as it moved past its third year, has quite a bit of work to do. The fact that the budget session was far more productive than earlier is something it can build on. In fact, it has been able to push through a number of significant bills, both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The prominent among them are the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill and the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill. Human resource development minster Kapil Sibal was able to push through several important bills among which was the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill.
The 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament also went off as smooth as silk though much time was lost in this session which could have been used for far more fruitful debate and legislations. The UPA is no doubt aware that other political formations have also begun formulating their strategies for the big election ahead in 2014, not the least of which is the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP. Now that we have an election looming not so far away, maybe we can hope to see meaningful debate and discussion in Parliament and have some of the very important pieces of legislation go through. This may be a good sign for all political parties, as they begin to get their acts together for the next elections. The countdown begins now.