Mamata dials Mulayam, Cong frets

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 10 2012, 10:53am hrs
The performance of regional parties in the recently concluded assembly polls in five states has raised the prospect of a realignment of political forces, if not around the concept of a third front, then at least as a powerful pressure group in Parliament. To this end, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee not only called Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav but also spoke to former West Bengal fisheries minister and current SP general secretary in Bengal, Kiranmoy Nanda, to fix a meeting between her and Yadav in New Delhi.

Kiranmoy Nanda, as part of the socialist party, had been part of the Left Front government in Bengal and had been minister for 28 years. He was briefly with SP in 1995, but left when Amar Singh became prominent in the party. He returned after 2009, and if you notice, he was in the background in all of Akhilesh Yadavs press interactions after the spectacular win in UP, said a source close to the Trinamool Congress chief.

The news in itself shouldnt worry the UPA, both SP and TMC are allies of the government. However, recent moves by non-Congress, non-BJP chief ministers like Naveen Patnaik and J Jayalalithaa to forge a united front on issues impinging federalism and Centre-state relations have led to a recalibration of political poles.

On the numbers front, in Parliament, the Rajya Sabha will see election to 58 seats which fall vacant in April and July, out of which 10 seats are from Uttar Pradesh. As of now, the UPA without SP or BSP is in a minority in the Upper House, where at least three Bills have been dropped because the government could not muster numbers to pass them.

Out of the 10 seats in UP, the SP is in a position to get

six members elected outright, the BSP is set to get two seats, while the BJP may get one. The last seat will depend on alliances.

The government therefore will be dependent on allies more and more in the House. The next big thing coming up in Parliament are the Presidential polls to be held in July-August this year. While every MP has the same value vote of 708, MLA votes differ based on the population of the constituency they represent. UP being the most densely populated state in India, votes from the state will carry more weight. Of the 5,48,507 votes needed to elect the President, UPA (excluding outside support parties) can muster only 4,50,555 votes. Therefore Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamta Banerjee could well decide who gets to be the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari was perhaps mindful of this new realignment in the states, and its effect in Delhi. The Congress is ready to walk that extra mile for better co-ordination with allies, he said.

That is just making a virtue out of neccessity.