Once again, the Left has got the Congress to change its stand.
Rajasthan governor Pratibha Patil has emerged as a consensus candidate of the UPA and the Left parties after a day of intense deliberations and negotiations.
Patil proved to be a fall-back option in view of the Left parties' stiff opposition to Home Minister Shivraj Patil's nomination. This is not the first time in the three years of UPA rule that the Left parties put pressure on the Congress and made it change its stand.
The Left parties also put pressure on the UPA when the Manmohan Singh government was on the verge of disinvesting Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, a public sector unit. They brandished the Common Minimum Programme to emphasise that the document had promised no such disinvestments would take place. After Congress president Sonia Gandhi's intervention, the government decided to keep such disinvestments in abeyance.
Even on setting up special economic zones (SEZs), the Left parties insisted on a relook at the SEZ norms. Sonia took note of the CPM's reservation and called for a relief and rehabilitation package, ensuring that SEZs were not set up on agricultural land and farmers, if possible, be made stakeholders in the projects coming up on their lands.
In the present case, it was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi who mediated to break the deadlock between the Congress and the left parties. Finally, it was Sonia's negotiation with the Left parties, which led to the consensus.
The announcement of Patil's name could have surprised the Left leaders but they were quick to agree that she fulfilled the three criteria they had laid down for an ideal candidate for the post. "The candidate had to be a political person, have secular credentials and in the current (political) situation know the balance between the judiciary and the executive,”' Sitaram Yechury said after the announcement of Patil's candidature. When asked whether Pratibha fits the bill, Yechury was emphatic: “That is why we are supporting her.”