The man who virtually put his prime ministership at risk on the single issue of Indo-US nuclear deal has emerged triumphant at the moment. His gamble of not succumbing to the Left pressure paid off, armed with the majority in the Lok Sabha, Singh would now be going all out to complete the complex formalities in finalising the nuclear deal with the United States. However, winning the vote may just be the beginning of challenges in the election year for the PM, apart from the nuclear deal, he has to fight the rising inflation and keep the coalition intact to go to the polls as a strong leader, something he has not been able to do so far.
The controversial Samajwadi Party general secretary, emerged as one of the major players during the confidence vote drama. Till recently, he was spewing venom at the Congress leadership, but when the Left parties withdrew support from the government, he sprang perhaps the biggest political surprise of the year by coming out in support of the ruling party. Singh, the man considered closest to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, is in for a tough road ahead. He faces an uphill task of keeping his party intact and rejuvenating it in Uttar Pradesh, where Chief Minister Mayawati seems to be on a roll and is not averse to poaching people from SP ranks.
The CPM supremo, till recently considered as one of the most powerful man in the country, has suffered a major political setback with the government victory. Till the time his party-led Left Front with 60 MPs was the lifeline of the UPA government, Karat had a power to veto all important decisions of the government. He had publicly declared the nuclear deal as dead, but the dramatic turn of events has given the Communist leader a lot of reasons to introspect on what went wrong. Karat has been able to find new some allies like Mayawati, but the general elections would be an acid test for his leadership with the Left facing problems in its traditional strongholds of West Bengal and Kerala.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, who seemed to be moving ahead consistently in his pursuit for the country’s top post, appeared a bit defensive while speaking about the nuclear deal in parliament. Advani, confident after party victories in almost all state assembly elections held during the past two years, could have utilized his speech in parliament better to put the government on the mat. His strategy of not allowing Mayawati to take the centrestage in national politics by toppling the government at this juncture, appeared to be the reason behind BJP not being aggressive enough to defeat the UPA in the trust vote. In the election year, Advani’s march would depend on how many new allies he can win over before the elections.
The UP Chief Minister seems to be passing through one of the best phases in her political careers. Since she scored a comprehensive victory in the state assembly elections last year, Mayawati’s importance on the national political scene has been on a steady rise. First, she had the Congress wooing her all out during the Presidential election in last July, after which Mayawati turned her attention to the scams during her rival Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime. Recently, after having taken the Congress’ gen next leader Rahul Gandhi head on, she then gave a major scare to the ruling UPA during the trust vote. In a surprise alliance with the Left and other regional parties, Mayawati sent shivers down the spine of the ruling alliance by going after SP MPs in a poaching drive. Her effort may not have paid off now, but she is likely to be one of the major players after the next general elections, with indications of her BSP doing well in UP.