Scandals override success for UPA II

Scandals override success for UPA II

PM invites allies for anniversary celebrations; DMK may skip party over Kanimozhis arrest

Scandals override success for UPA II

The coalition under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, in its second innings,  promised to consolidate “the steady gains” of the UPA I legacy like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and sought to deliver on food security, right to education and police and electoral reforms. However, the government was suddenly overtaken by a spate of scandals.

The Congress-led UPA II attributed one of the biggest corr­u­­ption scandals—2G sca­m—under its regime to “the co­mpulsions of coalition politics,” indirectly blaming its key ally, the DMK, which was in charge of the Telecom Ministry. The scam allegedly resulted in a huge loss to the exchequer.

However, many other scandals that dogged the government emanated from Congress quarters. While Suresh Kalmadi figured prominently in the Commonwealth Games scam,  the names of Ashok Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh of the party were mentioned in the Adarsh Housing Society scandal.

The prime minister has invited all parliamentarians of the UPA to dinner at his 7 Race Course residence on Sunday to celebrate the government’s anniversary. However, DMK chief M Karunanidhi has already refused to join Sunday’s “party.”

The ship of the Congress-led-coalition, entering the third year of its journey, is trying to do a balancing act in the increasingly troubled waters of coalition politics. Therefore,  the impact of the arrest of former telecom minister A Raja and Kanimozhi will be visible in the “UPA party.”

Sunday’s celebrations are laced with caution in the backdrop of a clear poll victory in Assam, a touch-and-go affair in Kerala and a near wipe out in Tamil Nadu.

The DMK, a long-term ally of  the Congress, is likely to skip the dinner hosted by the prime minister. The DMK, jolted by its massive defeat in Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, has taken the decision after the arrest of Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP and daughter of Ka­ru­nanidhi, in the 2G scam case.

The UPA under Manmohan Singh has been accused of destabilising institutions like the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The goof-up in appointing  PJ Thomas Chief Vigilance Commissioner despite being an accused in a palmolein export case had hit the fair sense of the dispensation and given enough credibility to the opposition charge that the government is unsettling key institutions.

Politically, the performance of the Congress-led alliance has not been very impressive. The alliance was routed in the 2010 Bihar elections despite Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi spearheading the poll campaign in the state.  In the recent elections to five Assemblies, the only impressive victory came from Assam and West Bengal. The alliance managed to return to power in Kerala, but with a very thin majority.

In Tamil Nadu and Puducherry the DMK-Congress alliance suffered huge setbacks.
 Politics apart, the UPA’s second run at the Centre is hit by spiralling inflation, though Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is still optimism personified. The price rise has hit the  “aam aadmi” hard.

To dispel despondency,  the UPA government may project a high growth rate and list as its achievements, among others, the passing of the Right to Education Act and Food Security Act.

The Union Government on Sunday will release a “Report to People” highlighting “the good work” done by the Centre in the last two years.

Now, it will be interesting to see whether the negative trends relating to scams, inflation and price rise will be included in the report. The recent goof-up of the “most-wanted” list sent to Pakistan has been an embarrassment for the nation. However, the UPA has decided to celebrate its two years in power.

Last year, the first anniversary celebrations were called off in the wake of the Mangalore plane crash.