Today will be a crucial day for the UPA.
On what promises to be an action-packed Wednesday, trends of the Karnataka poll results should be out by noon, probably giving a nervous government something to cheer about before a critical hearing in the Supreme Court in the afternoon on the CBI’s Coalgate affidavit.
UPA leaders are confident of a win in Karnataka — which, they feel, will help them take the steam out of the Opposition’s relentless campaign against railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar.
The Congress has defended the law minister so far, but his fate will be determined by what the SC has to say about the CBI’s affidavit detailing the changes made in its draft Coalgate report at the instance of Kumar and attorney general GE Vahanvati among others.
The government’s legal team is of the view that the CBI affidavit has made it clear there was no pressure from the government on the investigating agency to alter its probe report. “The CBI affidavit states it accepted changes in the draft status report only after verifying factual accuracy on all aspects,” said a government source.
This defence, however, will be tested in the top court and it remains to be seen what view it takes of the government’s stand.
Congress managers have left it to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “to take a final call” on Kumar if the Surpeme Court passes any adverse remarks against him. Since the PM has publicly defended the law minister on the issue, party managers too have fallen in line and come out in support of the law minister. But privately, the unease is palpable.
Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said: “We will wait for the outcome of the Supreme Court observations tomorrow.”