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Congress saves BJP's proxy government in UP
|The position of Congress has become identical to the dog which was killed in a road accident because it could not decide whether to cross the road or not. By deciding to abstain from crucial voting in the election for a seat of state legislative council, Congress not only harmed itself in UP but its repercussions will be felt in Gujarat also where a fight for life and death between secularism and communalism is scheduled for the second week of December.
Annoyed by Congress decision to abstain and thus indirectly help the BJP-BSP-Lok Dal combined candidate, Munna Singh Chauhan, the Samajwadi Party has announced to field 150 candidates out of 182 assembly seats in Gujarat to play the same spoilsport for Congress as the latter has played for it in UP.
It is very difficult to understand what prompted Congress to take the decision to abstain as the Mayawati government has left no stone unturned to humiliate it. First, it bulldozed the Indira Gandhi Pratishthan and attached its land to Ambedkar Park. Congress leadership reacted sharply and staged a big procession in Lucknow. Sonia Gandhi wrote to Atal Behari Vajpayee to intervene, but to no avail. When Congress leaders resorted to democratic protest, thousands of them, including former governor and now national treasurer, Moti Lal Vohra, were sent to jail.
There is a tussle for Muslim vote between the Congress and Samajwadi Party. On its part, Samajwadi Party too has left no stone unturned to harm Congress in the past, but this time Congress has further alienated itself from Muslims as it has saved a government that has saved the culprits of Babri Masjid demolition. Muslims are not amused at Mayawati’s act of betrayal. Congress too has invited the wrath of common Muslims by giving a new lease of life to this discredited government.
Efforts of Sonia Gandhi to make Congress acceptable among Muslims had begun to succeed, but the decision of state leaders like Pramod Tewari and Moti Lal Vohra have reversed the gains. However, state unit president, Arun Kumar Singh Munna, and most of the 23 Congress legislators were willing to vote in favour of the opposition candidate, Yashwant Singh of Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan. Thus Congress has not only invited the wrath of the Samajwadi Party but also of Lok Janshakti Party, whose leader Ram Vilas Paswan is popular among Dalits. If both joined hands in Gujarat with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Janata Dal (S) and Communist parties, things will become very difficult for Congress in that crucial election. The ultimate losers will be Muslims and the secular ethos of the country.
Seen from the general public’s point of view, this government has done nothing to solve the people’s problems, but has pumped billions of rupees in unproductive projects like construction of Ambedkar Park and Parivartan Chowk. Drinking water, electricity, transport, health care and education are neglected.
A rare chance of strengthening secular forces in UP has been missed. This will benefit the BJP-BSP combine, which has decided to contest the forthcoming parliament and assembly elections jointly. This will harm both Congress and Samajwadi Party as they will not be in a position to take on the combined strength of this communal and casteist front out to destroy the social fabric. Mayawati has cleverly made Bahujan Samaj Party a member of the extended Sangh Parivar.
The election results are interesting. The combined official candidate got 194 votes whereas during confidence vote it got 217 votes, the minimum need for majority being 202 in the house. Practically, the government is in minority, but is being saved by the governor, who is a RSS man and will not move without instructions from BJP high command, which does not want to risk this government as it will send a wrong message to Gujarat.
The opposition candidate got 183 votes, with 23 legislators of Congress abstaining. Had they voted in favour of the opposition candidate the figure would have gone to 206, and the government would have been reduced to a minority, compelling the governor to ask Mayawati to prove her majority in the house, where the fall of government was sure. The state leadership of Congress has thus saved the government at the cost of its own long-term interests.
¯ Obaid Nasir in Lucknow