Cut motion: a short-term victory
The common perception after the UPA government defeated the cut motion by an overwhelming support of 289 members against 201 secured by the NDA and some other parties is that deft handling and appropriate strategy led to the outcome. The result also showed that those opposing the UPA were in a minority and the Opposition parties as a whole were not only divided but willing to help the UPA in the voting.
The perception perhaps does not reflect the ramifications of the voting pattern and how it may have impacted the Congress. In defeating the NDA and some others, the Congress obviously brought on board parties like the BSP against whom its cadres led by its general secretary Rahul Gandhi are waging a war in Uttar Pradesh.
Securing a majority on its own in Uttar Pradesh has been the party’s objective. In its aggressive campaign, Rahul Gandhi has been exposing the alleged corrupt practices of the state government. He has also been at loggerheads with Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati whose support was sought and received by the Congress to save its government last week.
The question that will torment many who have been in this battle with Rahul Gandhi is whether it was worth taking the BSP support when it is one party that the Congress leadership perceives as the biggest hurdle to its getting a majority on its own both in the state as well as in the Lok Sabha later.
The Yadav duo — Lalu Prasad and Mulayam — had made it known that they would abstain from the voting in Parliament. Under no circumstances would they want to be seen supporting the cut motion sponsored by the BJP. This clearly meant that even without Mayawati, the government could have been saved. Naturally, the margin of victory would have been slender but victory was assured.
But since Mayawati has supported the government, she is bound to demand her pound of flesh. Politically, she has scored a victory over the Congress, which will be seen as a party seeking its rival’s support even though its leadership and cadres have been attacking it on issues of corruption and misgovernance. She can easily say that the Congress was dependent on her and, therefore, could not be her replacement in the state.
The argument against this may be that in politics one has to take the support of even enemies and this was a one-off case. It could be said that the battle for UP will begin in the months to follow. But no one can contest the fact that this battle will not be as strong as Rahul Gandhi had perceived it.
The second question which could arise is whether by seeking her assistance, the Congress has virtually given up on UP and may, henceforth, look at the state in terms of contesting the polls along with an ally. Its challenge of emerging as an alternative stands diluted. Unless subsequent events dispel this impression, it will find it hard to become a major stakeholder in the state’s politics.
Another way of looking at it is that the cut motion has been used by elements within the Congress to curb the rising influence of Rahul Gandhi who has been taking all opponents of the party head-on. Many believe that though he could have acquired the highest office in the country had he so desired, his supporters would have wanted him to do so as and when their party had a majority on its own. The majority objective can be achieved only by capturing the most seats in UP. That is unlikely now.
Therefore, the cut motion may have saved the government but in the process may have shattered Rahul Gandhi’s dream of capturing UP. This impression has to be erased since this is one factor that could determine the future course of the Congress. Between us.