Pawars flirting with BJD, Left gives an edge to NDA over UPA

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 3 2009, 05:54am hrs
A day after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar revealed that he would be joining anti-Congress forces in Orissa, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)s standing as a formidable pre-poll formation appeared to be losing its edge in the perception war over the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Using the latest desertion in the UPA ranks to attack the Congress, BJP on Thursday contended that the ruling alliance was now a badly fragmented entity. All the allies of the Congress are leaving the UPA one after the other because the UPA and the Congress is a sinking ship, a statement issued by BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Admittedly, the UPAs image as an all encompassing alliance has taken a beating after the RJD-led by Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the LJP, walked out of the coalition in the wake of differences over seat sharing in Bihar. Earlier, the Congress had failed to finalise a tie-up with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. The impression that the UPA was not reaching anywhere was only reaffirmed when the PMK too decided to quit the ruling alliance and join hands with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

Party circles though concede that the Congress itself may have facilitated NCPs decision to sleep with the enemy in other states barring Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa. It had provided an exit window to alliance partners at the very beginning itself when the Congress formally declared that it was not seeking a national alliance with its colleagues in the UPA but only seat arrangements at the state level. Parties like the NCP are now using this Congress stance to justify their flirtations with anti-Congress forces in a number of states. Pawar begins by attending a rally with the BJD and Left parties in Orissa on Friday.

That the Congress was upset over Pawars moves was evident when Union home minister and senior party leader P Chidambaram maintained that it would be good if he does not share dais with those who are opposed to Congress in Orissa. Chidambaram, however, admitted that the Congress could not bind him and pointed out that even in 2004, not all the parties in the UPA, had pre-poll arrangements with the Congress.

The BJP obviously could not help itself from ridiculing the Congress. It is evident that all the UPA allies so called are fighting among themselves and they realise to their dismay that keeping company with Congress would spell disaster, the BJP spokesperson said, adding that the political landscape had undergone a vast change in its favour in the last two weeks. They or, the uncertain Third Front cannot be expected to give any stable government for the country. he added. The BJP, which is also angling for the largest party slot, is hoping that a shrinking of the secular space will go to its advantage.