New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's 72-hour deadline to the government to roll back fuel price hike, LPG cap and FDI in retail ends. However, the Congress does not look worried and is in no mood to go back on its decisions.
However, sources say back channel talks are on between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mamata Banerjee and the Congress says it's hoping to convince Mamata. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Congress spokesperson PC Chacko said, "We hope we will be able to convince Mamata, she is a very valued ally of the UPA. She has made it clear she does not want the government to fall."
But the big question is whether Mamata will take the extreme step of withdrawing support from the UPA government. Mamata Banerjee has limited options as she cannot go with the NDA, considering she has a large Muslim constituency in her state of West Bengal. She also cannot join the Third Front as she cannot be seen supporting the Left. She also does not want to be seen toppling the government. Therefore, she is left with the following options.
- Withdraw Cabinet Ministers and give outside support to government
- Protest on the streets but stay in government
- Pull out from government, push for a snap poll
However, even if Mamata decides to withdraw support, does the UPA have a reason to worry? The UPA can survive with the support of Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party. While the SP's stand is still not clear, its leaders say they do not want to topple the government. 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.
Even if Mulayam does not support the UPA, the support of Mayawati's BSP and Lalu Prasad's RJD can also save the UPA. Mayawati, at this point of time, may not want the government to topple considering she has recently lost ground in Uttar Pradesh and would keep an eye on the crime rate in the state.
Therefore, even if Mamata takes a decision to withdraw support from the UPA, which looks unlikely, the UPA may not be seeing itself in deep trouble.
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 (21) and RJD (4) could save the government. The support of the Samajwadi Party with its 22 MPs is uncertain at this point.
The numbers in the 15th Lok Sabha:
Total Strength: 540
Half way mark: 271
UPA: 273 = Congress (203) + TMC (19) + DMK (18) +
NCP (9) + RLD (5) + NC (3) + Others (16)
Outside support for UPA: 50 = BSP (21) + SP (22) + RJD (4) + JDS (3)
NDA: 151 = BJP (114) + JDU (20) + SS (11) +
SAD (4) + JMM (2)
Left and Others: 66 = CPM (16) + CPI (4) + BJD (14) + AIADMK (9) + TDP (6) + Others (17)
The number game if the TMC pulls out of UPA:
Half way mark: 271
UPA'S strength in Lok Sabha: 273
UPA (273) - TMC(19) = 254
UPA(273) - TMC(19) + BSP(21) + RJD(4) = 279
The support of the SP(22) to the UPA remains uncertain.