By turning down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to join his government, the Samajwadi Party wants to ensure that it is not stained by the taint of anti-incumbency that marks the UPA. The SP has 39 MPs in the current Lok Sabha, but is currently fighting with its back to the wall against the rising influence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has decided to keep his party out of the ministry for two principal reasons. First, there is great resentment against the UPA government due to its inability to control rising prices. Singh wants to make sure that the SP — with just a few months left before the polls — should not share this blame. Second, joining the ministry now could also lead to instability within his own party: those left out could opt to join the BSP if an offer comes their way.
“We were not part of the decision making process of the UPA government for more than four years,” pointed out a senior SP leader. “So why should we share the blame for its negative features?”
The Congress may make a fresh offer to the SP to get into the government by offering it important Cabinet berths at the second meeting on Monday. There are many in the Congress who believe that if the SP is part of the government, it will make fewer demands on the government, and will share collective responsibility for its failures.
For the Congress, an alliance with the SP will ensure that its poll performance in UP will be at least at par with its performance in 2004 when the party got nine seats.
But Mulayam also knows that the post-poll equations may drastically change if neither the UPA nor the NDA get a clear majority. By not committing himself to the government at this early stage, Mulayam may become a major player in the post-poll power politics even if he merely manages to even retain the same number of seats he got in 2004.