The withdrawal of the DMK from the Congress-led UPA-2 cannot but have politically damaged the ruling alliance, but it’s too early to say that the Manmohan Singh government’s survival is now in question. The DMK was the last of the Congress’ allies with a Lok Sabha strength in double digits. Unlike Trinamul, though, at the time of withdrawal it didn’t suffer from vision loss. It didn’t think the government would be brought to its knees and be defeated on the floor of Parliament if it went its own way.
This is a point to consider even for the two major parties of Uttar Pradesh — Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP — whose “outside support” to the government is pretty indispensable, at least as far as passing bills is concerned. The real question, however, is if the government will fall in the Lok Sabha if either of the two tries to pull it down.
If that doesn’t happen, the effort would not have been worth it. The example of Trinamul, and before that of the Left (in 2008), is before Parliament.
At present, the BJP does not appear quite ready to go to the polls. Its president Rajnath Singh has said the BJP won’t make any move to topple the government in Parliament. If that is so, both the SP and BSP are likely to look sharp. If the BJP or some NDA sections walk out in seeming protest against the government during a no-confidence vote, the government is likely to sail through.
The confidence of government spokesmen in stating that the stability of the ruling alliance is not in doubt stems from a prognosis of this nature, and this cannot be said to be without merit. With the world economy still fragile, it will be a pity if unanticipated circumstances force the present coalition out. That is likely to mean almost certain economic dislocation, which would take a long time to set right. In an environment of high prices and a damp investment climate, this is not what the doctor would recommend.
The ability of the government to get key economic bills passed is likely to depend on the “merit of each,” as finance minister P. Chidambaram noted on Tuesday. That makes some give and take inevitable. The government side may well countenance subtle resistance in Parliament in passing the Food Security Bill. The reason is that while no party can be seen opposing it openly, non-Congress parties may be loathe to see the Congress earn political brownie points from such a measure.