Saturday, July 26, 2008


The Confidence Vote that Dr Manmohan Singh asked for and won on July 22, 2008, has generated unexpected domestic ‘nuclear’ deals and started chain reactions which may well lead to an explosion of the sort no one would have dreamt of a couple of years back.

The BJP was expecting to be in the vanguard of the opposition’s fight against the government. But it made the fatal error of choosing the Indo-US Nuclear Deal as the anvil on which it would strike. It was almost like the foolish Kalidas cutting the very branch of the tree on which he was sitting, not realising that he would fall and hurt himself. Nobody bought the manufactured and dishonest opposition shown by the party to the deal, just for the sake of playing out the traditional and dysfunctional role that all opposition parties in India believe is their sole job. When Brijesh Mishra went on record to say that the deal was very good for India, the BJP lost even the tiny fig leaf it had to cover its unprincipled stand as well as the inexcusable efforts Jaswant Singh made to deviously topple the government.

The Congress, on the other hand, thought it had dealt effectively with the commie sting by getting on board the best ‘brokers’ in the business who brought along 39 MPs of their own along with the promise of getting more by lure. It also made all sorts of compromises to get on board tiny parties and individuals to get the magic number required to win the vote. In the end, victory was achieved with the help of all of them plus opposition MPs that the Congress was able to successfully ‘influence’ to listen to their ‘conscience’ rather than their party’s whip. Unfortunately, just before the vote, three BJP MPs squealed and alleged dramatically in Parliament that Amar Singh had paid them Rs1 crore as advance to either vote for the government or abstain from voting.

Till literally minutes before Mulayam Yadav and Amar Singh had a dramatic change of heart after a short meeting with former President APJ Abdul Kalam, the Third Front, also known as the United Progressive Alliance(UNPA), stood rock firm against the deal. When the wind was taken out of its perforated and feeble sail by Yadav’s unexpected(to them) turn, all seemed lost for the non-BJP parties ranged against the ruling UPA.

Then, something happened for which nobody was prepared. From nowhere, Mayawati, with just 17 MPs, emerged as the almost undisputed leader of the entire non-BJP opposition, including the commies who were stung by the decision of the Congress to go ahead with the deal despite their opposition to it. Though not a member of Parliament, Mayawati simply stumped Lal Krishna Advani with her chal(moves) and stole what was supposed to have been his moment of thunder in Parliament.

At one point before the vote took place, Mayawati, sure that the government would be defeated, actually started fancying herself as the next Prime Minister who would take over from Manmohan Singh immediately after he lost the vote. With the entire opposition behind her, she was sure that she would be able to prevail upon the BJP to support her government from outside. Her audacious and unexpected manoeuvres saw Advani turn lal(red)when he realised that he, the Prime Minister in waiting, would remain waiting despite leading the second largest party in the Lok Sabha.

So, when the government won the vote 275-256, thanks mainly to eight deserters from the BJP, five of whom voted for the government and three who abstained, a stunned and disappointed Advani probably had more reason to be relieved at the outcome. Mayawati was quick to launch an attack on him and his party for letting the government win. Reason? The BJP did not want to support the ‘dalit ki beti’, daughter of a dalit, to become the Prime Minister of India.

The import of this statement of Mayawati has perhaps not yet sunk in. A few days earlier, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav had said almost exactly the same thing, in response to a question by a TV reporter about the possibility of Mayawati becoming PM. He did not know then that he was saying exactly what Mayawati wanted to hear and that that was exactly the allegation she would make within a couple of days, with just 17 MPs in her bag.

Till now, Mayawati’s reach has been largely confined to UP and some other pockets in North India. Dalits of Central and Southern India have not yet decisively cast their lot with her. But the sudden and real possibility of a dalit woman becoming the PM that the realignment of political forces has thrown up, has electrified dalits like never before. If Mayawati plays her cards well, the next elections are going to spring many surprises and could well make Mayawati the only candidate who will be accepted and supported by all political parties except perhaps the one which emerges the largest.

If there is a fractured mandate after the next elections, it will be very hard for any political party to ignore the power of Mayawati’s emotional charge that it is opposed to letting the daughter of a dalit become the PM.

I have been saying for some time that for perhaps the first time since Independence, Mayawati is in the unique position of being able to cause a split in the Congress party and lead the breakaway portion on to becoming the real party, with the remaining rump withering away faster than anyone can even imagine now. The developments during the last fortnight or so are a definite step towards making that possibility, which seemed fanciful to many, real and attainable in palpable measure within the next few months. It is now up to Mayawati to make the right moves. The Congress is unwittingly going to help her; she just has to seize the opportunity at the right moment.

The Congress, as was evident for some time now, has formally fallen into the frustrated arms of Mulayam Yadav and Amar Singh who have overnight turned from bitter foes into the most dependable allies and friends. This friendship is now being cemented with the Samajwadi Party(SP) being asked to join the government. There is also talk that the two parties are going to fight the next elections together in UP and that Rahul Gandhi himself is going to formalise that arrangement. That the Congress is going ahead to commit this hara kiri despite what happened in the past and despite the sensational events in Parliament which graphically exposed what has been known all along by everyone, is sufficient proof that Mayawati’s ‘chal’ has made Sonia Gandhi ‘behal’(in a bad condition).

Can two boats with holes in them hope to float if they are tied together? Or are they going to sink as soon as the boat with the larger holes takes in enough water? The SP has been stumped by Mayawati, and things are only going to get worse for it, thanks to the fundamental changes set in motion as a result of the vote in Parliament. The Congress has all but completely lost its social vote base to both Mayawati and Mulayam, and is now an almost non-existent player in UP with just about 8 per cent of the vote.

How does the Congress resurrect itself? By willingly going to bed in turns with those who have violated it or by taking them on? It is too weak to take them on together. So, the only workable option for it is to isolate and destroy one at a time. Today, Mulayam and his SP stand totally isolated. The entire opposition has rallied behind Mayawati and that is not going to change in a hurry. The SP and the BJP cannot be seen coming together unless something dramatic happens and Amar Singh’s broking skills are needed.

The Congress can go ahead and give the SP a few badly needed extra votes by allying with it; it may get a few in return too but the danger is that it might lose more. That is what happens when you befriend an friendless foe whose reputation is getting from bad to worse with each passing day. The SP is never going to reclaim its place and has to be content in future to remain a sidekick of the Congress. It needs the Congress; the Congress needs to shed it, if it has to have any hope of becoming a player capable of taking on the growing stronger Mayawati and the stagnating and blundering BJP.

Mayawati is re-writing the rules of the game at a furious pace. Thanks to the ineptitude of the principal political parties, Congress and BJP, she appears unstoppable. And, if she continues to show the same brilliance and strategic ability that has got her where she is today, 2009 may well see India get its first dalit Prime Minister. That will be a development as significant as that of Barrack Obama becoming the first black President of the United States, coincidently in the same year.

Readers may also like to read:

1. Mayawati and Dalit Power
2. Single and on a mission: India's alpha (ge)Ms.
3. Mayawati's hug of death
4. Is Modi BJP's answer to the Manmohan Mayawati challenge?
5. Looking for India's Obama in Harvard!