When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted last week that the Congress-led UPA Government would last its full term despite the distinct possibility of the Samajwadi Party withdrawing its outside support, it was not a case of wishful thinking by a politician clinging to power.
It was less about his transformation and more about the Congress’ underlying desperation to stay on till mid-2014.
What Manmohan inadvertently revealed was not his personal ambition, but the Congress’ game plan of playing on the fears of the smaller parties to avert the next Parliamentary elections from coinciding with the next round of Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh scheduled for October.
Onboard the aircraft while returning from the BRICS Summit in Durban, the PM’s response to a question on whether SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav would withdraw his party’s support to the UPA was, “I cannot deny that possibility. But I am confident that the government will complete its full five years, and that the elections to the next Lok Sabha will take place on schedule.”
Interestingly, the question was not whether the Manmohan Government would last its full-term; he was merely asked if it was vulnerable to pressure from its fickle allies.
By volunteering a clarification, the PM let the cat out of the bag -- that his government and the Congress were trying to avert the eventuality of holding the general elections at the end of the year instead of March-April 2014, as scheduled. Top leaders of the Congress admitted as much.
The grand old party (GOP) is simply not in a position to take the risk of holding the Lok Sabha elections alongside the Assembly polls in October. Of the six states that are scheduled to go to the polls by October, two are ruled by strong regional satraps of the chief Opposition BJP.