UPA tightrope walks into 3rd year
For a man who gave himself 6/10, Singh has had a longer honeymoon than any other incumbent in recent years.india Updated: May 21, 2006 10:06 IST
As his government enters its third year in office on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may be bracing himself up for more tightrope walking with a rejuvenated Left clamouring for a brake on reform policies and the reservation issue stalking the coalition.
For a man who gave himself six out of 10 marks for the first year in office, the 73-year-old Singh has had a longer honeymoon than any other incumbent has had in recent years.
A redeeming feature, though, for the UPA coalition, headed by Sonia Gandhi, is that the main opposition BJP still remained embroiled in internal problems while the Congress has managed to be on the winning in three states in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry in the Assembly elections.
But the Left parties more than filled up for the opposition and has threatened to play a more aggresive role in Parliament and outside on any violation by the government of the Common Minimum Programme.
Soon after the completion of one year, the relations between the UPA and the Left witnessed a major rupture with Prakash Karat, who was just elected CPI(M) General Secretary, announcing suspension of the Left's participation in the UPA-Left Coordination Committee.
Left parties have raised their voice against any rise in prices of petrol and petroleum products in spite of the crude oil prices internationally touching the roof and have warned against any move to bring down the EPF interest rate.
Singh has been lucky to build bridges with leaders like Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who led the Left win in West Bengal and is also talking the language of ushering in industry and investment in the eastern state, lagging behind in development.
The Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement was the feather in the cap of the economist-turned-politician as US President George W Bush, in search of friends, visited India and walked the extra mile for providing energy security. That the agreement has not yet been approved by the US Congress was another story.
The Bush visit, however, come at a worse time politically for the ruling dispensation as it came against the backdrop of the Iran nuclear issue, Iraq and the cartoon controversy.
Much to the discomfiture of the Prime Minister as also the Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the visit was utilised by the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party, outside supporters of the coalition, to paint the Government and the Congress black to woo the Muslims ahead of the Assembly polls in five states.