Heavier price

Heavier price

Yet another internal dissension of the UPA has come to the surface with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) airing its complaints about the functioning of the government in public.

The disaffection may not be just limited to the government level. It may extend to the wider political area also. According to reports, senior minister Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were ready to resign.

This  might be a pressure tactic because the NCP is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra also and would not at least for now like to rock the boat in the state. It is doubtful whether the number two position in the union cabinet is also the main issue of contention for the NCP. It could only be using it as a visible issue of disagreement.  Its main complaint is that its views are not considered.

The possibility of Rahul Gandhi assuming a higher profile in the Congress and the coming cabinet reshuffle may have been considerations for Sharad Pawar. It is not unlikely that he may be thinking of new political equations emerging in Maharashtra and the country before the 2014 general elections.

Pawar’s political agility and ability to protect his own interests in changing situations are well-known. Being a realist, he would not go so far as Mamata Banerjee, who is much less dependent on the Congress than he is, to embarrass the Congress. But he would want to extract the best price at a time when the Congress is vulnerable, with its main allies like the Trinamool Congress and the DMK not disposed best towards it and new friends like the Samajwadi Party still unreliable.

But the real problem that comes through the simmering and surfacing dissensions in the UPA is the inability of the Congress to work with other constituents as allies of a coalition. The party is still uncomfortable with coalition politics and considers other parties subordinate entities.

There is no effective consultation at the governmental and political levels among parties of the UPA. The arrangements which existed during the UPA I period are not there now. It is because of this that the Trinamool Congress gets away with its own railway budget and scuttles cabinet decisions, and the NCP goes public with its differences.

The NCP may be appeased today or tomorrow with some reward, but the Congress will have to pay a heavy price in future for its big brother policy to its allies.

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