Politics of Coalition and Contradictions

The ruling coalition of India led by the Congress has been moving from crisis to crisis for more than two years now. Blackmailed and stalemated at every step of its operations by the allies and the opposition parties. After Congress did poorly in three of five states where Assembly elections took place February-March, 2012 the worst was expected. Now, with the start of the Budget session of the Indian Parliament from 12th March the worst fears seemed to have been confirmed.

Political parties join a coalition for grabbing the dictating power and a few ministerial berths. Being responsible ministers of the government they do not still bother to work for it, but rather think of ways to destroy it from within. The opposition parties as ever look for opportunities to ally with the 'allies' to corner the government, stall its functions and even to dethrone it so that they have a chance to come to power in mid-term polls. For a weak coalition withdrawal of even a single ally with only a few seats can reduce the coalition government to minority. If an 'ally' minister indulges in horrid corruption the ruling coalition has to take the blame hounded by the opposition parties and if it punishes the errant minister the concerned 'ally' would blame it again and threaten to quit supported again by the same opposition that shouted against corruption.

The Assembly elections results thus emboldened the allies more than the opposition parties who kept on lurking round the corner for opportunities. The prospect of a mid-term poll or General Election became a distinct reality.

The Railway Budget was presented in Parliament on March 14, 2012 by Dinesh Trivedi who belonged to an ally, Trinamool (grass-root) Congress (TMC) having 18 seats. The Budget was considered to a good and bold one. For nearly a decade trains fares were never increased. So, due to the resulting resource crunch and a stagnation in improving services Trivedi proposed an across the board hike in all classes of passenger fares. Before the aam-admi or the common man could react their representatives were up in arms. What happened was unprecedented.

Mamata Bannerjee, the Chief of TMC, attacked her own party's minister Trivedi for the fare-hike. She reportedly said she was not aware of this proposal and that she could never support any proposal adverse to the interests of common people. Like an 'understanding' ally she shot off letters to the Prime Minister asking him to sack Trivedi and for a rollback of the fare hike. TMC even came up immediately with an alternative railway minister. Trivedi defended his Budget making a historic statement 'Nation first, family second and party only after' and now his inevitable sack had been the hugely debated issue till the last reports came in.

Other lurking allies and opposition parties would capitalize on this stalling work in Parliament one more time and could pave the way for a mid-term poll if the ruling coalition puts its foot down refusing to be blackmailed. Even if it agrees to everything it has to go on placating the allies and compromise on the General Budget and on other crucial Bills too.