New Delhi: Battling serious perceptions of policy paralysis, the UPA government completes three years in office in its second term tomorrow amidst uncertainty over passage of key economic legislations and decisions like FDI in retail and faces tough challenges in the run up to the general elections two years hence.
Hopping from crisis to crisis, particularly in the last more than a year, the government presents a picture completely different from its first term, hemmed in as it was by the Left parties then on key issues but still went ahead with its decisions.
Adding to its discomfiture is the current rate of inflation, which crossed the double digit figure in April, and the overall economic situation marked by downturn in manufacturing and worrying tax collections.
Hopping from crisis to crisis in the last year, the government presents a picture completely different from its first term.
Economist-turned-politician Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who even risked his government in the first term on the Indo-US nuclear deal, appears to have been buffeted by scams, especially the 2G scandal, a spill over of the actions of a minister in the first tenure which have come to haunt the government in the second term.
Scams relating to Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Housing Society have only added to dent its image further. Crucial allies like Trinamool Congress, which appears to have more in common with those outside the government, have put paid to implementing decisions like FDI in retail or the setting up of an anti-terror hub National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).
The coming Presidential election in July is one more challenge to the UPA, which is yet to decide on its candidate, though two regional parties - BJD and AIADMK - have taken the initiative of propping up former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma.
Interestingly, his own party NCP, which is part of the UPA, has distanced itself from his moves. As things stand today, the Congress-led UPA has an edge in the Presidential election in an electoral college with a vote value of nearly 11 lakh.
And widely-speculated candidates like UPA's chief trouble shooter Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari can make it easy for the ruling alliance to garner support from outside supporters like SP, BSP and RJD, notwithstanding BJP's opposition to their candidature.
Even the Lok Pal legislation, brought under pressure from civil society agitation, faces uncertainty with some of the allies like TMC, headed by the mercurial Mamata Banerjee, strongly opposed to its provisions like creation of Lokayuktas in states through a central legislation.
With just two days to go for the current budget session of Parliament to be over, there is no guarantee the legislation will come up for passage in Rajya Sabha. "Coalition compulsions" are an excuse often given by Government managers to cite difficulties in taking decisions.
Mamata Banerjee's party, the second biggest constituent of the UPA after Congress, virtually left no issue to take potshots at the government.
DMK had joined Trinamool to force the government keep in abeyance the ambitious FDI in retail proposal while Sharad Pawar, heading another UPA constituent, had made it public that he was not amused by the Prime Minister's talk of coalition compulsions, which they found as a euphemism to blame the allies.
The UPA is organising a celebratory dinner for its leaders on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary and will be coming out with a report card highlighting the steps taken in various sectors during the last one year to dispel impressions of a policy paralysis, which came to the fore with Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu's statement in New York recently that no major reforms may be possible before 2014.
He corrected himself later to say that some reforms measures like Pension and Insurance Bills could be passed in the months to come by, which Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also hopes can be done.
In its Report to the People, the government is expected to detail various initiatives, particularly to tackle corruption and efforts to sustain economic growth despite the global scenario.
Among the achievements, the government is likely to highlight the successes on internal security front, foreign relations and passage of bills intended to combat corruption and improvement in service delivery mechanisms.
During the week, the government will also come out in Parliament with a White Paper on Black Money and steps to combat the menace, while pointing to its successes in reaching agreements with countries like Switzerland in this regard.
Opposition parties do not find any bright patch in the government's performance in the last three years. Even some of the allies have reservations.
BJP Leader and Spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says the UPA has proved to be a topsy-turvy alliance in the last three years.
"It is a non-performing government and replete with corruption. It has demolished the faith of the people in the government which has functioned with lack of leadership and commitment."
BJP's ally JDU shares this view. Its Spokesperson, Shivanand Tiwari, says UPA record will be a complete negative report card.