Mamata’s ‘political bomb’ creates worst crisis in the UPA’s second tenure

The dramatic turn of events in the race to find the next President of India could be the beginning of the end for the ruling UPA Government if not handled properly, India Today Editorial Director and political observer M J Akbar said on Wednesday.

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“A political bomb has exploded in the Congress,” he told Headlines Today after Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav virtually rejected the names of Pranab Mukherjeeand Hamid Ansari, the preferred candidates of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

“If not handled properly, the UPA may implode under the internal strain of this presidential election.”

Abul Kalam, Somnath Chatterjee and Manmohan Singh
Abul Kalam, Somnath Chatterjee and Manmohan Singh.

Akbar felt the day’s developments were a clear sign of the UPA Government’s weakness and instability, as well as an indication that allies such as the Trinamool were no longer afraid of standing their ground.

“The Government is on the decline and an association with it at this time is not feasible for the allies,” he pointed out. “The Congress took its allies for granted. It left others in power by not sharing power. This is the beginning of the drama for the next Lok Sabha elections.”

What will it take for Mamata Banerjee to support Pranab
What will it take for Mamata Banerjee to support Pranab’s candidature. – Narsim

Elaborating on his view, Akbar said there now seems to be a possibility that the Government may not last beyond 2013.

“The politics of elections is gaining momentum and the presidential poll is a build-up to the parliamentary elections,” he said. “It seems like the parliamentary elections will now be tough to avoid after the next spring or winter.”

Frontrunners in the Presidential race.
Frontrunners in the Presidential race.

Akbar added that the Congress only had itself to blame for the mess. “There are no accidents in politics and it’s shocking that the Congress didn’t even try to build a consensus when even a seasoned politician such as Sharad Pawar was stressing that a consensus was necessary,” he reasoned.

Mamata and Mulayam threw their weight behind a second term for former President APJ Abdul Kalam after their meeting on Wednesday evening, and this, Akbar felt, was a smart move.

Mamata and Sonia Gandhi
Mamata Banerjee met Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.

“President Kalam has huge national support,” he said, referring to a recent poll conducted by the India Today Group, in which an overwhelming majority of participants supported the former scientist.

“A President is supposed to be above politics… and Kalam is,” Akbar stated. “We’ll have to see around whom the momentum builds. Just as easily as we saw some momentum being deflated out of Mr Mukherjee’s possible candidature, we could see it build in favour of Kalam in the next 48 hours.”

Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari
Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari.

Akbar said that even the DMK, which has so far stood firmly with the Congress, may have to break ranks with Kalam’s name now officially in the fray.

Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee
Mulayam Singh Yadav meets Mamata Banerjee.

“The Tamil Nadu factor will push the DMK to support Kalam,” he said. “Even the AIADMK should not have a problem. NDA too won’t have any trouble backing Kalam.”

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