The BJP-NDA figured in the UPA-Left talks on Tuesday, with both sides citing the saffron party’s ability to run a coalition and complete a full term in office in order to persuade the other side not to be rigid in their stand on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. The stand-off on the deal has raised speculation of mid-term polls, with both sides now engaged in trying to avoid being blamed for pushing the country towards it.
The Left argued that if the BJP could shelve its three key issues of Ayodhya, Article 370 and uniform civil code to sustain its coalition, there is no reason why the UPA cannot put on the backburner the deal that is not, in their view, in the country’s interest. “You should learn from the NDA,” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury reportedly told the meeting.
Earlier, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee recalled that the BJP-led NDA completed its full term in office.
Congress leaders, both in the panel and outside, are wary that the UPA’s collapse would give the Opposition BJP a handle. “We do not want to open ourselves to attack that we have failed to run the first coalition government,” said a Congress leader.
In fact, on Tuesday, the BJP said that it was not in the ruling party’s DNA to run a coalition. Elections, it claimed, were round the corner. But the prolonged crisis with the Left is beginning to irk a section of Congress leaders, including some ministers, who believe it is taking a toll on governance and the party’s credibility insofar as its ability to stand up to the Left pressure is concerned.
“The Left has raised objections on every major issue and bill whether it is on telecom, pensions and labour reforms or disinvestment or the nuclear deal,” said a minister.
In this backdrop, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s remarks in Haryana have not gone down well with Left leaders. Without mentioning the Left parties, Sonia had said that the opponents of the deal were against the Congress and the country’s development and needed to be given a “befitting reply”. While the Left reacted by accusing the Congress of pushing the country towards elections, the AICC later clarified that the remarks were made in Haryana’s context and not aimed at anyone.