The party that leads the United Progressive Alliance government is in a state of moral and political confusion. Demoralised by a string of Assembly election defeats, notably in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka, and besieged by economic and political troubles, the Congress has absolutely no idea where it is going. Perhaps feeling that it has nothing to lose during the murky period leading up to the 15th general election, which must be held no later than April-May 2009, it has resorted to political adventurism. The government it heads has no answer to the spectre of double-digit inflation, which crept up to 11.42 per cent last week. The mishandling of the Amarnath shrine land affair has set off a wave of communal hate and tension in Jammu and Kashmir, and destabilised the Congress-led dispensation during the run-up to crucial Assembly elections in the State. There has been a significant falling-out of allies or those who came together, in May 2004, to enable a UPA government to be formed on the basis of a National Common Minimum Programme.
The issue on which the ruling party has chosen to make a do-or-die stand is not anything connected with the problems of the people — but the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. Curiously, it is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has no known electoral base and holds office by virtue of being a member of the Rajya Sabha, who has been allowed to pull the trigger on the political arrangement that sustains his minority government
Apart from being as inconsistent, I doubt if there is one other newspaper that can be accused of such bad taste. With the news that N Ram is soon to be replaced doing the rounds across Old Madras gossip circles, one also wonders if the golden handshake involves a red Rajya Sabha seat.