PM need not cancel his flight to Tokyo now

PM need not cancel his flight to Tokyo now
By H. K. Dua

It is a topsy-turvy world of politics. Friends abandon you on the high seas; and confirmed rivals come to your rescue.

Last week’s events in Delhi once again prove the validity of the age-old piece of cynical wisdom that in politics, or in diplomacy, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. Only interests endure.

Last month, the mood at the Prime Minister’s House was sombre — with little hope left for the nuclear deal with the US to survive.

The CPM-led Left was baying for Dr Manmohan Singh’s blood. The BJP, hardly fond of the Congress or of the Prime Minister, would not touch the deal. Even some Congressmen, including a few Cabinet ministers, began letting out that they would rather save the government even if the nuclear deal was to be sacrificed.

For three weeks, the nation had been discussing whether the Manmohan Singh government would survive or collapse with the Left threatening to pull the plug.

The country was indeed faced with the grim prospect of political instability at a time when inflation and oil crunch had hit the economy and family budgets.

This week’s events in Delhi have, however, brought cheer to 7 Race Course Road, and MPs and countrymen. The prospects of the nation landing in immediate political instability have now receded. The Manmohan Singh government has survived; so also the nuclear deal.

What has saved the government and the nuclear deal is the help that came from, of all the people, Messrs Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh, who never during the last four years had a kind word to say about Mrs Sonia Gandhi or Dr Manmohan Singh. Some behind-the-scene contacts and quick thinking on their part led the Samajwadis to think that it would be politically wise to be on the side of the Congress and the UPA than the Left and yet a nebulous idea, the Third Front.

It comes natural to the communists — pink, red and more red — to remain true to the ideological tenets taught to them. And it is certain that they will withdraw support from the Manmohan Singh government during the next few days. On the nuclear deal they will, however, find that they are not in sync with the people’s mood as well as the nation’s needs.

Four years ago, the Left had decided to support the UPA government to keep the BJP at bay. By opposing the nuclear deal, the Left now finds itself on the same side as Mr Lal Krishan Advani and his saffron brigade, waiving the ‘No-deal’ flag — a sight of the company the communists cannot be comfortable with.

The emerging political scenario has interesting possibilities in store — particularly in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections which at best are only 10 months away.

Mutual compulsions of UP politics are pushing the Congress and the Samajwadi Party close to each other. Whatever their past bitterness, the Congress and Messrs Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh have realised that independently they cannot face Ms Mayawati’s formidable challenge, and if UP has to be freed from her hold and dent made into her widening constituency, they better join hands. They are also watching the outcome of the overtures being made by the BJP towards Ms Mayawati.

In a way, the pre-election alignment of political forces in the nation’s most populous state has begun and could throw up new coalitions that could form the government or sit on the opposition benches.

Interestingly, the emerging understanding between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party meets at least the tactical needs of the SP for domestic politics, while it serves Dr Manmohan Singh’s requirements for giving a push to strategic partnership with the United States – an idea the Marxists of all varieties are essentially allergic to.

Since the beginning the BJP has been having an incoherent view of the nuclear deal, although the party is not opposed to a strategic partnership with the US. Actually, it does not like being left out when the Manmohan Singh government is going ahead with it. Who sits on the high table and who lends the signature is often considered more important than the essentials.

With the Samajwadi Party lending a helping hand, Dr Manmohan Singh has the reason to feel relieved. There was too much at stake for him.

He had signed the basic agreement with President George W. Bush in Washington three years ago. Failure to see it through would be a loss of face for any Prime Minister making a commitment on behalf of over a billion people. Credibility of the country, which never in 60 years has gone back, was also involved.

The Prime Minister was looking ahead and explaining that without signing the nuclear deal, India would not gain access to badly-needed enriched uranium, high technology for nuclear reactors, defence and space industries and the emerging economy. It will also mean clean energy for India at a time when the oil prices are hitting through the roof.

And then it is not a mean achievement for India at last to sit at the high table along with major nuclear powers.

With feeling a bit assured about the survival of the nuclear deal, Dr Manmohan Singh does not now have to cancel his bookings for the G-8 Summit taking place in Tokyo from Tuesday.