The Trinamool Congress move to bring an early no-confidence motion against the UPA government at the beginning of the winter session of the Parliament has landed a major part of the Opposition in trouble.
This is yet another unilateral decision by Mamata Banerjee, which has been taken without consultation with any other party and without gauging the general mood of the anti-Congress forces.
She simply wants to express her sense of outrage against the ruling dispensation at the Centre and also wants to expose the Left who, she believes, is closer to the Congress than it publicly admits.
Till now, she has apparently received the support of only the AIADMK of J Jayalalithaa. If AIADMK agrees to her proposal, then a few other non-BJP, non-Congress parties like the BJD might come forward. As senior BJP leader, Murli Manohar Joshi pointed out Mamata had already approached Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, for the principal Opposition party’s support.
But the BJP would take its decision on the issue on Tuesday.
There are indications in the BJP that it is not very comfortable to go along with Mamata on this particular issue. A defeat would lend some form of legitimacy to the Congress-led government which can then claim that the policies it has been pursuing are justified.
The BJP is a party where the leadership issue has not yet been settled. It does not want to face elections very early. But the BJP also knows that even if the Congress win in a no-trust vote is a certainty, it should better go along with Mamata if many of the Opposition parties agree with her move.
The BJP is also willing to travel a distance for the sake of Opposition unity.
On the other hand, the Left too is in two minds. It will take a final decision at a meeting to be convened specifically for this purpose. The CPI has hinted it would love to vote against the ruling coalition in a no-confidence vote but CPI (M) leader, Sitaram Yechury, told reporters that it was not a well-thought-out move because in the end it would only help the Congress because several of the fence-sitters like BSP and SP would back the Congress-led government for reasons of secularism. Some CPM leaders described Mamata’s move as gimmicky.
The CPM believes that it would have been better if the Opposition had acted in unison and chosen to go together on a motion against the government on the contentious issue of FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184 which permits voting in the Lok Sabha. The SP and even a UPA constituent like the DMK had opposed FDI and would have been forced to adopt an anti-government stand, given their stated positions on the subject. A defeat would have really embarrassed the government.
But Mamata’s logic is prompted by the fact that she wants early elections and is pushing others in that direction. In the process, she is ignoring the difficulties these parties are confronted with at the moment. No wonder Jayalalithaa has given her support straight away because she too hopes to gain immensely from an early election.
Even SP which has announced the names of the party’s 55 nominees rather early may be prompted to join hands with Mamata but most others will be reluctant. There is a suspicion among quite a few Opposition parties that Mamata is pushing Bengal politics on to the Delhi stage.
Of course, with Mayawati’s support and with other friendly parties like RJD and JD(S) also helping out, it may finally be smooth sailing for the Congress. In fact, a victory in a no- confidence motion would help the government because, secure for the next six months, it will enjoy the political calm and be in a position to table a populist, election-friendly budget.