I am really impressed with the stand Madam Sonia Gandhi took with respect to handling the DMK threat to withdraw its ministers from the central government on seat-sharing issue for forthcoming assembly elections. It was once again a ‘FIRST’ move from a ruling government well-led by Sonia.
First, Sonia became the chairperson of UPA coalition and carved a right place for herself in controlling the Congress as well as the coalition government! It was a ‘First’ move by Sonia led UPA to drop A. Raja, the allegedly corrupt tainted telecom minister, from the central government ignoring plea of DMK party to retain him. It was a First move – the historic Indo-US nuclear deal was signed, despite opposition from the Left in the government. And, now – Sonia has stood firm again and clearly said, ‘I do not care whether the UPA government continues or goes. You get only this many assembly seats!’ to DMK, coalition partner known for its threat/ strong arm tactics!
I can understand, it is tough to lead a coalition government. Manmohan Singh, the Indian PM, explained well – why he could not reject A. Raja’s appointment as telecom minister although he was wary about his credentials. He blamed it on Coalition governance’s requirements! But, this ‘excuse’ cannot go on like this all the time. Food Inflation was not controlled by Sharad Pawar, Agriculture minister; but the central government could not drop him because he is coalition partner NCP’s nominee!! A. Raja was dropped only after development of lot of political furore on the 2G spectrum scam and it was getting unmanageable any longer. Now, Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) is opposed to the Land Acquisition bill passed by the parliament at the center and is being a fickle coalition partner in West Bengal. She has already made it very difficult for TATA Nano project to succeed in the state of West Bengal and eventually, TATA got out of West Bengal choosing Gujarat State instead. Assembly elections are due in West Bengal and Congress has a seat sharing arrangement with Trinamool Congress. Will Congress allow Mamata Bannerjee to indulge in strong arm tactics??
‘Coalition’ as a principle should work both ways! It does not really help politics; if the weaker (not always?)/ smaller partners engage in strong-arm tactics to meet only their party’s needs/ agenda or aspirations. Political stability is important at the center; but not at the cost of the voters who have elected the government! ‘Collective responsibility’ speaks of maturity in democracy and ‘leadership’ should be respected in politics just like in any other organization. And the principal partner, like the Congress is in the present coalition government, should lead effectively, stand firm on issues affecting the voters at large, and not allow back-seat drivers! Otherwise, it will not reach where it set out to do so!!