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India UPA Drifts, Leaders Eye Other Shores

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
May 30, 2011

By Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr/DNA-Daily News & Analysis, 30/05/2011

UPA drifts, leaders eye other shores

PM keen to become President, Chidambaram positioning himself to take over as the next PM


New Delhi: The UPA-II is adrift and the Congress top brass has clearly failed to deal with it, feel party insiders.

A Congress member who did not want to be named said the scams-related crises at the Centre could be attributed more to an internal failure instead of to the opposition's ability to score points against the government.

He said the party has failed on three fronts: no outreach to Parliament, no outreach to the judiciary and no outreach to the media. The party member criticised Pawan Bansal, minister for parliamentary affairs, for "inept floor management". Bansal kept allies out of the loop which is why the Public Accounts Committee launched a successful offensive against the government through its provisional report on the 2G spectrum allocation scam, he said.

Even Veerappa Moily, law minister, seemed to be caught off guard. The government's law officers were not prepared to deal with the 2G spectrum allocation scam or the financial mess surrounding the Commonwealth Games 2010, the member said. The result, the Supreme Court is directly dealing with corruption cases and the executive has practically no role, he said.

Ambika Soni, minister for information and broadcasting, did little to keep the media informed about the government's position on all contentious issues. This necessitated the formation of a Group of Ministers to deal with the media, he said.


With president Pratibha Patil completing her term in July 2012, there is a strong feeling within the Congress that the top brass is not looking beyond next year's presidential election and they are not interested in strengthening the party for the long run. Word is that both PM Manmohan Singh and FM Pranab Mukherjee are eyeing Rashtrapati Bhavan and they do not have a stake in the long term prospects of the party and the government.

There is speculation that Singh could look at some prestigious international assignment as it would be the best way tosign off as PM after seven years in office.

Home minister P Chidambaram is clearly positioning himself to take over as the next prime minister.

Only time will tell if the insiders are right but the fact that these thoughts have crossed the minds of Congress members reveals genuine anxiety about the future of the party.

On the party front too, there is fear that party general secretary Rahul Gandhi has been reduced to an Uttar Pradesh (UP) politician instead of a national leader in UP.

But why doesn't Gandhi follow his own plan?

"He wants to do the work that has been assigned to him," a member said. "He does not want to overstep because he is sensitive to the fact that his mother is the party president."

The situation is summed up this way: The Congress top brass is the gerontocracy. At the bottom are the "baba log" or the younger generation. They make the right noises but do not have the inclination or the capability to address the crisis facing the party and the government. The vacuum in the middle makes the structure wobbly. And that is worrying.

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