Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strange ways of Indian politics !!!

So the d-day in Indian politics has finally dawned !!!! By the time the sun sets over Delhi today, we would possibly come to know whether the present government has survived or not. And by all accounts, as the cricketing cliche goes, it is going to come down to the final over, maybe the final ball. While all the drama that has happened over the past week has kept everyone enthralled (much like the IPL), it is still a sad commentary on Indian politics (not that it had a good reputation anyways) and on Indian public life in general.

While I have no great sympathy for the Congress and their handling of the N-deal, it is still disappointing to see a government being pushed to the brink over a particular issue. And it also sets a dangerous precedent. This era of coalition politics means that the main party in power (the Congress in this case) has to constantly watch its back and keep its allies happy. Tommorow, any one coalition partner can withdraw support over a particular issue (it can even be a major regional party pulling out over some petty regional issue). One such instance and the government is reduced to a minority and has to fight for survival. The present situation might not be that serious in that the elections are anyways scheduled next year. So a negative outcome for the Congress today might, at best, only advance the elections by a few months. But imagine any government in its first or second year of power risking its survival on pushing through some deal or reform process. Hard to imagine, right ?

This brings me to my central question: Why does support for a particular deal/bill/reform process have to be synonmyous with support to the government ? After all, when the UPA combine came to power in 2004, the N-deal was not even on the horizon. Hence, the CMP (common minimum programme) that formed the basis of the UPA coaliation did not contain anything pertaining to the N-deal. Given this, why cannot any member of the ruling coalition (the Left in this case) say "Sorry, we will not support you on this particular issue, but support to your government will continue". In my view, they can disagree on a particular issue which is not part of their common minimum programme and, at the same time, remain a part of the government. Put in another way, why does every bill or act tabled in Parliament need to be a vote on the government's survival. Had the Left not withdrawn support, then we might have seen just a bill being tabled for approval by Parliament rather than a trust vote. And irrespective of the result, the government would have continued. Going ahead, we cannot afford to have a trust vote, followed by mid-term elections, each time an important bill is to be tabled in Parliament.

Quite a few things about Indian politics defy logic for me !!!


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