Much is being made out in political circles of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Ganesh Chaturthi’s message which goes like this: “May this festival of Ganesh Chaturthi remove all obstacles…”.
In normal circumstances, this would have been treated as routine greetings for the festival, but 9.45 pm on Tuesday night, when Hurricane Mamata struck the UPA, things are not normal for the UPA.
Manmohan Singh, along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, held a two-and-a-half hour-long morning-to-noon crisis management meeting of the party’s Core Group members and decided to meet again in the evening.
After the meeting, an impression was given that there was no question of rolling back FDI in retail, but they would try and talk to Trinamool ministers and convince them of the merits of the government reform measures, including those on LPG cylinders, diesel price hike and FDI.
But before the proposed second meeting of the Congress Core Group in the evening, the Prime Minister will chair another stormy meeting on another politically contentious issue, the distribution of the Cauvery river waters.
The presence of AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in that meeting is likely to turn all attention in that direction. The issue is sensitive to most southern states. She could use this visit to New Delhi, albeit for a few hours in the evening, to her advantage and add to the pressures on the UPA government.
While the Jaya trip merely happened to coincide with Mamata‘s exit from the UPA, in the context of what the DMK may be upto, her movements, and statements, will be carefully analysed for political content.
The DMK, too, will be holding a high level meeting chaired by M Karunanidhi today. The party has already aggravated the UPA’s woes by announcing its decision to join the all-India bandh which was called separately by the Left Front, the Samajawadi Party, the BJP, TDP, NDA and various traders’ associations.
Sources said, apart from a fiercely competitive game of political brinkmanship with its rival AIADMK, the DMK also had another reason to cock a snook at the UPA. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi represents the Nadar community through her matrilineal side.
The community is largely engaged in retail trade and constitutes an influential electoral segment. The DMK chief is said to be deeply unhappy with the UPA ever since A Raja and Kanimozhi had to be sent to jail for a prolonged period for their alleged complicity in the 2G scam. But his own compulsions in Tamil Nadu, where Jaya is the bigger threat, and potential threats from the CBI in 2G, for which he needs Congress support, will cause him to decide how far he will go in the direction of Mamata Banerjee.
The Samajwadi Party has announced a meeting of its highest policy-making body, the parliamentary board, on Thursday evening. Party chief Mulayam Singh was unsparing in his criticism of the Congress: “I wish some better sense prevails on Congress, which has become very weak due to its self-cultivated adamant attitude.”
The BJP is upping the ante with senior party leader LK Advani saying that he would demand a special parliament session on FDI in retail.
The road ahead appears to be stormier than what the Prime Minister and the Congress would perhaps have ever bargained for when they re-embraced reforms with a vengeance last weekend.