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Growing rift and race for PM post

New Delhi, Thu, 23 Apr 2009 M Shamsur Rabb Khan

Sharad Pawar is not the only politician, who nurses tacit grudge against the Congress or more precisely Sonia Gandhi for putting up Dr. Moanmohan Singh as the PM for the next time if the UPA gets majority in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The growing rift between Lau Yadav and the Congress lays bare the long nurtured ambition of this leader from Bihar to see himself, like L K Advani, sitting PM’s seat, at least once in a life time. Both the leaders of NCP and RJD, even though formidable regional powers, have come out in the open to attack the Congress over PM’s post, with a belief that in order to respect the coalition dharma, other frontline leaders from other political parties should be given a chance to the head the government.

As the dust rose at the seat sharing between RJD and LJP in Bihar followed by a meeting of the trio – Lalu, Mulayam and Paswan – there seems a crack in the UPA coalition, signalling the parting of ways, which is based on pure political opportunism. The Congress did not like the idea of trio coming together that would surely result in snatching Muslims and Yadav votes from the party. Of the two, Lalu has been more vocal in attack, accusing the Congress for Babri mosque demolition, an issue through which he is trying to regain Muslim support. It is worth mentioning that at a time when the Congress is on the back foot due to clean chit to Jagdish Tytler on the Sikh riots of 1984, Lalu’s political volley has added fuel to the fire.

However, Lalu now finds himself on shaky ground among an electorate who might be feeling alienated from his type of politics. He seems losing his grip over broad vote bank, and is jittery about support from Muslims There is no doubt that he excelled as India’s Railway Minister, who has been working hard to shower favour to Bihar through investment in railway-related infrastructure projects before the election, his years of being Bihar’s indispensable politician, disgrace and jailed over a fodder scam and installation of his wife as CM, aided and abetted with misrule and corruption have deeply affected the electorate, especially Muslims. For this reason, he raked up the issue of how he arrested L.K. Advani’s Ayodhya juggernaut, but it remains to be seen how long he can extract electoral returns from this theme. This time Lalu is pitted against BSP’s Muslim candidate Saleem Parwez in Saran, which makes his prospect of winning a shaky outcome. And fighting the Congress also fritters away his strength. Rather than coming close to Congress for his formidable presence at the Centre, Lalu has chosen to take up fighting it.

Sharad Pawar, on the other hand, opposes Dr. Singh’s nomination as the next PM by simply because he sees himself as the next PM on two grounds: first, there should be a Maharashtrian to be the PM of India’ second, in democracy, other suitable contenders must be given chance, and with Arjun Singh seriously ill, Rahul so young and others are not considered to be in the race, there is no other leader in Congress after Dr. Singh. More so, since Dr. Singh has already enjoyed five years in power, he should make way for others to take over.

But then, there are others like Mayawati, aspiring to be the first Dalit PM of India, not to talk about Prakash Karat, the rebel who left the UPA coalition, and who gave some sleepless nights to Dr. Manmohan Singh over Indo-US deal. The road to PM post seems full of thorny elements, with many a stalwarts trying to outwit one another. Let us wait and watch.

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