It is utterly tempting for the pundits and the laity alike to now focus on only one aspect of the ongoing Congress-Left tussle: who is to blame for foisting mid-term elections on the nation? It may be the question doing the rounds, but it still is the wrong question to ask, considering that the original poser is the India-US civilian nuclear deal a Trojan horse? has been, for all purposes, been left by the wayside. What started with the cheerleaders of the deal accusing the Left of holding the government to ransom (‘scrap the deal or else we will withdraw support’) has now turned into the UPA government being seen as the folks with their fingers hovering on the ‘election’ button.
On Sunday, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi stated, “Elements [opposed to the deal] are not only the enemies of the Congress but they are also enemies of progress and development.” This was not in New York before an NRI crowd that clamoured for some sense of diasporic pride, but at Jhajjar, Haryana, before an audience who will, when required, put their voting fingers where their mouths are. And if there were any further doubts as to whether there was a context to her statement, she added that “we have to give them a strong and befitting reply”. Clearly, the “strong and befitting reply” is not likely to be forthcoming during the coordination committee meetings between the UPA and the Left scheduled for October 9 and 15. The reason for our pessimism stems from fact that the discussions over the next few days will be conducted among the already converted. The government is convinced that the nuclear deal will bring India the requisite energy supplies required to keep our economy chugging — and the supplementary benefits that this brings — without the nation becoming a client State of the US. The Left, on the other hand, is convinced that this will herald the formation of the 51st state of the US, and the comrades point to closer defence ties with the superpower as a sign of things to come. We have come to believe the government on this issue not because its members have believable faces but because it has made the more sensible arguments.
As for the prospect of untimely elections, one shouldn’t make a deal that serves national interest so convincingly hang fire just because of the bogey of polls. It won’t be the first time that polls will be thrust upon us. But it could be the last time that India gets an opportunity like the nuclear deal again.