The Indo-US nuclear deal might be the proverbial last straw. If the Left does decide to pull the rug from under the Congress-led coalition but allows it to function as a minority government, expect to hear more about affirmative action for minorities and the UPA’s flagship programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and Bharat Nirman.
Countering political rhetoric of the perceived closeness of the Congress to the “anti-Islam and imperialist” United States will be a challenge in the event of mid-term elections, but the Congress is willing to take this risk, a senior Congress leader said. As a minority or caretaker government, the Congress is likely to push in with a fulsome dose of schemes aimed at empowering deprived sections — including implementation of the Sachar Commission report and 15-point programme aimed at the welfare of minorities.
The Congress’ assessment is that the present climate suits its poll prospects because the responsibility of obstructing governance and pulling down the UPA will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Left.
The BJP, Congress leaders feel, is too disoriented and ill prepared to do any damage.
The ruling party plans to fight the mid-term poll on the stability and governance planks.
Besides opening schools and providing scholarships/coaching, the Sachar report recommendations currently being implemented include targeted intervention to improve basic amenities in 90 identified minority concentrated districts. In the coming months, these programmes will be implemented on a war footing, an official said.
The Congress has no fear going in for mid-term poll with stability and governance as its planks, party leader Devendra Dwivedi said. The party’s internal assessment is that the present climate suits the Congress’s poll prospects for this reason: the responsibility of obstructing governance and pulling down the UPA will fall squarely on the Left, to the corresponding benefit of the Congress. The assessment is also that the BJP is too disoriented and ill prepared for elections.
Early days yet for formulating possible poll planks, but Congress leaders are upfront on mid-term prospects. “The ball is in the Left’s court. Let them pull down the government and force a mid-term; the Congress is willing to face the people,” senior leader Ajit Jogi said.
On the nuclear deal, a senior party leader said there can be no reversal of the government’s position; it is for the Left to decide one way or another.
Coming in the backdrop of electoral reversals in states like Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the bravado of the Congress leaders appears misplaced. But there is a good reason for the party to favour mid-term polls: political observers say it is interested in having general elections held before the fresh delimitation report comes into effect. After having been notified in the official gazette, the report is awaiting presidential sanction. The new delimitation report, authored by the Justice Kuldip Singh-headed commission set up by the NDA regime, is said to have altered political constituencies to the serious disadvantage of senior Congress leaders.