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UPA counts numbers ahead of parliament session

Sunday April 21, 2013 06:09:21 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Support of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party would be crucial for the Congress-led UPA during the remainder of budget session of parliament as the government's failure to get the finance bill passed will imply its lose of majority and result in early elections, say analysts and political observers.

Keeping that in mind, the government is keen to get key bills passed when parliament resumes its budget session after a brief recess. The bills relate to food security, land take-over, anti-graft Lokpal besides those related to reforms in the pension and insurance sectors. Their passage will showcase to voters that the government performed despite the opposition.

But the first hurdle will be the finance bill.

A large number of amendments moved by the opposition against the finance bill are sure to give a tough time to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's floor managers, informed sources told IANS.

Though most political parties do not want early elections to the Lok Sabha, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was flexing his muscles in the past, is seen as perfectly capable of pulling the rug from under the government's feet without notice.

Sensing the Congress is vulnerable as it lost two allies - the Trinamool Congress with its 19 members and the DMK with 18 members - in the past six months, party chief Sonia Gandhi reviewed the parliament strategy with senior ministers Friday.

Even if the SP with 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha decides to ditch the government, the BSP with 21 members, the Left parties with 24 and the Janata Dal-United with 20 members could bail out the government, aver Congress party sources.

This week the centre allocated Rs.12,000 crore to Bihar ruled by JD-U leader Nitish Kumar, whose long alliance with the BJP is seemingly on the rocks. With the JD-U dead opposed to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the NDA, there is a lot of speculation over the future of the BJP-JD-U alliance.

Even if the SP decides to withdraw support after the budget session, the government will not necessarily fall, say some analysts. The budget session is to conclude May 10.

The government has time till the monsoon session in July-August to push through some populist welfare measures, hope for a good monsoon and a bumper crop to lift the mood of the agriculture-dependent rural population, and then possibly call for general elections by yearend.

These are among the various scenarios being discussed in the political corridors and strategy sessions.

According to political commentator and professor of political science in the Jawaharlal Nehru Univeristy (JNU) Zoya Hasan, the central government is "delicately balanced".

"UPA is delicately balanced, and uncertainty is there as it is a coalition government. The government has lost two of its allies in past and is dependent for support on the SP and BSP," Hasan told IANS.

"It is difficult to predict SP's stance as the party is smarting under the economic package which was given to Bihar but not to Uttar Pradesh," she said.

If that is not enough, the government is also bracing itself for the onslaught from an aggressive opposition in the remaining three weeks of parliament session.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to raise the "leaked" draft report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G allocation which blamed then telecom minister A. Raja, who, in turn has claimed that everything was done in consultation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The government has also drawn flak over the alleged toning down by Law Minister Ashwani Kumar of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on the faulty allocation of coal blocks.

Besides these two issues, angry public protests over police apathy towards the gruesome rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi are also likely to be raised by the opposition as another stick to beat a harried government with.





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