Uttarakhand Cut-Throat Competition For Top Post
After the voters of Uttarakhand delivered a fractured mandate the leaders of the twin major political players in the state politics the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress have begun trying to garner support of fringe political groups to form the next government.
Both the parties failed to get the magic figure of 36 (in a house of 70 legislators) required to form the government. Of the two, the opposition Congress has emerged as the single largest party having notched up 32 seats whereas the ruling BJP got one seat less than its main rival. This shortfall of seats has ensued hectic political lobbying in the state capital with the twin rival parties having initiated closed-door confabulations to ensure support of fringe political groups to form the next government. The BJP and Congress are busy wooing seven legislators whose support would be crucial to forming the next government. Of these, three are Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs, three independents and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA Pritam Panwar.
And this wooing game is going on behind the scene with the top Congress and BJP leaders desperately trying to muster the strength of the seven legislators. In fact, in this connection, three top BJP leaders namely the party’s former president Rajnath Singh and its twin general secretaries namely Dharmendra Pradhanan and Anant Kumar arrived in the state capital just a day after the poll results were announced. On Wednesday, all the three leaders remained closeted in a city hotel with outgoing Chief Minister B C Khanduri, former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, ex-state BJP chiefs Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Bachhi Singh Rawat among others. Sources said the close door meeting had been organised to explore the possibility of seeking the support of seven MLAs to form the government. In this connection, Rajnath Singh is also stated to be in touch with BSP supremo Mayawati.
BOOST TO TMC
The recent Assembly Election results of five states, most importantly of Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, brought life to Trinamool Congress. The result established that the future of India lies in the hand of regional political parties who are coming out stronger one after another and the national parties had to taste the defeat like never before.
Before the results were declared the Congress was of the opinion that if Samajwadi, Party had to take its support in forming the government in the state of Uttar Pradesh, then it can easily avoid Trinamool Congress at the Centre, who is second largest ally in the present UPA government at the Centre and a reason for everyday pressure, thereby pressurising the Mamata Banerjee’s party in the state of West Bengal. But the dreams of Congress Party shattered since Samajwadi Party emerged as the single largest party in Uttar Pradesh thereby staking a claim of forming the government in the state on its own.
For Congress party as Trinamool Congress became a threat at the Centre, now in Manipur the results established Trinamool Congress as second largest party in the state of 60 Assembly seats where Trinamool Congress won 7 seats and will sit in opposition to oppose the policies of Congress in Manipur. Trinamool Congress had fielded 47 candidates in Manipur, where 7 candidates won.
With the Left debacle in Bengal Mamata established herself as a firebrand leader of not only Bengal but of Indian politics, by her sheer hard work so to be with people to serve their cause. In the process she has learnt how issues are important in politics and how to raise those issues.
After being in power in Bengal, Mamata is looking to extend Trinamool Congress in the North-East, after her win in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh Assembly election in last elections. After Manipur, again both coalition partners at the Centre will be face to face in Tripura where Assembly Election is due in 2013.
Trinamool Congress being the most prominent and second largest ally in the UPA govt at the Centre, the victory in Manipur will give Mamata Banerjee and her party a boost. That is the reason the Trinamool Congress leader and Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi declared mid-term polls possible, although later he backtracked saying it was his individual opinion not that of Trinamool Congress leader. Although this was an indication that it wanted to put pressure on the Congress at the Centre.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata
Like the BJP, the Congress has also initiated backdoor channel talks with the seven MLAs. In fact, the Opposition party requires the support of just four MLAs to reach the magic number of 36. So, it is banking on the three Independent MLAs and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal legislator Pritam Singh Panwar to muster sufficient numbers. According to sources, the Congress doesn’t hope to get the support of the BSP MLA, its (Congress) equations with Mayawati not being very good owing to the CBI currently conducting an inquiry into her pet Taj Corridor project with the nod of the UPA government at the Centre. So, on Wednesday afternoon when the BJP leaders were having a closed-door meeting in a city hotel the buzz was that state congress president Yashpal Arya along with three independent MLAs and UKD MLA Pritam Singh Panwar were already having a meeting with their party high command in Delhi. The same evening, Arya flew back to the state capital where he and other top Congress leaders reportedly had a meeting with elected party legislators in a city hotel apparently to decide the Congress legislator party leader or the probable chief ministerial candidate.
According to sources, bonhomie among the Congress leaders was very much evident in that meeting. But hidden behind that apparent cordiality is the cut-throat competition among top state Congress leaders who are vying with one another for the top slot (chief ministerial post). That, however, is a different issue. For, now, the Congress is as desperate to reach the magic number of 36 as its main rival party—the BJP.
Incidentally, the Congress does stand a slightly better chance of forming the next government as it has emerged as the single largest party even though it has only a slight edge over the BJP in terms of seats. So, in all likelihood Governor Margaret Alva might invite the Congress first to form the government if it manages to show her the letters of support from four legislators other than those belonging to it (Congress). But if it fails to muster sufficient numbers, she would invite the BJP to form its government. “I will go strictly by the rule book”, Governor Alva made it clear when reporters asked her which party she would like to invite first to form the government. She made that statement on Wednesday evening when outgoing Chief Minister Khanduri handed over to her his letter of resignation a day after the ruling BJP had emerged as the second largest party after the Congress.
Be that as it may, observers see the fractured verdict not being in the interest of Uttarakhand, as it would lead to political instability in the economically backward and resource-scarce hill state. Incidentally, this is not the first time that people of Uttarakhand have given a fractured verdict. In 2007 assembly elections too the ruling BJP got one seat short of the magic number of 36. More or less the same situation was in Uttarakhand’s maiden 2002 assembly election when the Congress came to power in the state.
By M Mukundan from Dehradun