Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is the UPA Government ready to face a vote?

As everyone who is interested in Indian politics is aware, the UPA is about to face a vote of confidence next week in Parliament. The issue is whether India should sign the Nuclear treaty with the American Government ... a treaty that will allow it to access nuclear material for its reactors for use in India ... while at the same time, imposing safeguards and preventing it from using the same for making bombs. Opposing this ratification is the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party that was, until a few days ago, a supporter of the Congress-led alliance known as the "United Party Alliance" or the UPA for short. This party, and in particular, its front-leaders, namely Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechury and others, have, all along the line, opposed the treaty; last week, it finally withdrew support to the UPA and reduced the ruling disposition to a minority in the Lok Sabha. In addition to the CPI (M), the other major opponents include the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), among others.

The problem has been, to some extent, mitigated by the sudden show of support by the Samajwadi Party (SP), though, at last count, the UPA still needs support from 26 other members to sail through with a more than 50% majority (which translates to 272 members at the very least).

I have no doubt that the UPA has already started "gifting" money to Independents and fence-sitters. I also think that the SP will extract a huge price for supporting the UPA, as, otherwise, no love is lost between Mrs. Sonia Gandhi of the UPA and Mr. Amar Singh of the SP. In the final analysis, I think a lot of money (and I really mean a LOT OF MONEY) will change hands between the UPA and its would-be supporters before they actually buy out those unsure of their loyalties.

Let us see what actually happens on the 21st of this month when the UPA has called a special session of the Parliament to discuss and to vote on the issue. Perhaps they will sail through, and perhaps they will not. If they do not, the government at the center falls, and India will look towards a fresh bout of General Elections, perhaps as early as January to February 2009.

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