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Verdict 2009: Limited options before Karat

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
May 14, 2009 13:27 IST
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The post-election results scenario will force the Communist Party of India-Marxist to ally once again with the United Progressive Alliance, say commentators.

The threat of a mid-term poll by 2011 will be one of the major factors that might force CPM chief Prakash Karat to swallow the bitter pill and support a Congress-led secular government. That will also ensure the Bharatiya Janata Party does not come to power, says Rajdeep Sardesai, political commentator and head of CNN-IBN television network.

"It is my firm belief that no matter what stand the CPM strongman takes, he will have no options left but to take sides with a secular government, particularly when the number of seats the Left parties will win are going down," says Sardesai.

Two women who could hold the key to the new dispensation in New Delhi would be Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Jayalalitha.

"It will be significant to note how many seats they can manage. If Jaya manages only 25-odd seats out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, then she would not have the clout that she would like to have. The same goes for Mayawati who must get every conceivable seat to be in the race for prime ministership. But all said and done, President Pratibha Patil would have a big task ahead in the days to come," Sardesai said.

Archana Dutta, a senior Press Information Bureau official who has been working with
Patil, said the President would consult top lawyers and Constitution experts before arriving at any decision.

"She might ask for letters of support from those staking their claim to form the government. As of now the UPA does not appear to be able to cross 205 seats. The question is, where are they going to get the rest of the seats,'' said a top lawyer who could play a key role in the next few days.

A senior government official who is closely watching the developments said, "The Third Front which was formed by some "disgruntled elements" may fall short of the required numbers. If this trend continues, then I am afraid we will have another poll by 2011. I do not any see any significance in the so-called support by the Marathi lobby to install Sharad Pawar as the prime minister. Pawar has only 15-odd seats and cannot hope to swing 260 in his favour to replace Dr Manmohan Singh. Even the Shiv Sena is not doing well. Hence it cannot lend support to the Maratha lobby as it had done in the case when Pratibha Patil was elected President."

The BJP and the Congress have sent "key men" across the nation to hold talks with those who can play a major role in government formation.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has been in constant touch with the Pattali Makkal Katchi's Anbumani Ramadoss, whose party is expected to win six seats in Tamil Nadu.

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan have been kept in the background and asked to gather support for the United Progressive Alliance government.

The BJP relies hugely on Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United.

Every party is keeping its fingers crossed for Saturday which is D-Day.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi