New Delhi: All eyes will be on Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as her 72-hour deadline to the government to roll back fuel price hike, LPG cap and FDI in retail ends. The Trinamool Congress will decide whether to withdraw support from the UPA. The Congress, though, is confident of convincing Mamata to stay.
Mamata has threatened to take a tough decision to protest against the Centre's reform measures, but what that decision will be, she hasn't elaborated.
Mamata's final decision on Tuesday will be watched closely by the two arch rivals from Uttar Pradesh - the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Mamata's 19 MPs can easily be replaced either with Mayawati's BSP that has 21 MPs or with Mulayam's SP that has 22, both are leaders with open channels of communication with the Congress.
Speaking on CNN-IBN's India at 9 program on Monday night, SP spokesperson Tasleem Rehmani almost gave the game away. "We don't want to topple the government, we don't want elections. There is a political vacuum in our country today, but we don't want elections now," he said.
There are three clear cut options before Mamata. She can take the extreme step of pulling out of the UPA. She can pull out her ministers and give outside support to UPA or she can keep doing the tough talk without actually rocking the boat.
In the past too, Mamata has threatened a lot, without ultimately doing anything. The UPA is confident that the script will be similar on Tuesday as well.
The Congress is not keen on a rollback. It seems confident that it will be able to convince key ally Mamata Banerjee to stay on in the government. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Congress spokesperson PC Chacko said, "We hope we will be able to convice Mamata, she is a very valued ally of the UPA. She has made it clear she does not want the government to fall."
Here's how the numbers game plays out in Parliament:
The UPA's strength is currently 273 in the Lok Sabha, that's just 2 seats above the half-way mark. If the TMC withdraws its 19 MPs, that number will plummet to 254 putting the government in jeopardy. But the support of the BSP and RJD could save the government. The support of the Samajwadi Party with its 22 MPs is uncertain at this point.