Early poll talk notwithstanding, SP, BSP not in a hurry to strike
For all their talk of the possibility of early general elections, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party - two crucial supporters of the government - may decide against rocking the UPA boat, political insiders feel.
Though the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's dependence on outside supporters has increased following the exit of the Trinamool Congress last month, these insiders and experts feel the SP and the BSP are not likely to withdraw outside support unless the move improves their electoral prospects and their position in a future coalition.
The Trinamool withdrew support over allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, the hike in diesel prices and the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders.
The SP is also opposed to the move on FDI in multi-brand retail but has signalled its intention to continue its support to the government, ostensibly to prevent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from reaping benefits of an early poll.
The BSP, the principal rival of the SP in Uttar Pradesh, has kept its options open on pulling out of the government but has so far stayed away from causing it trouble.
The SP and the BSP have sounded their cadre about a possible snap poll but have desisted from withdrawing support.
Political analysts say the two parties are unlikely to pull the plug on the government so long as they are uncertain of the nature of coalition arrangement in the future and their own electoral prospects.
Aswini K. Ray, former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the SP and the BSP were talking about early elections "to keep the Congress on the edge and assert their own strength".
He said the Congress was likely to suffer losses if the Lok Sabha polls are held early, but there is no certainty about how other parties will benefit.
"The BJP being organisationally strong will benefit a little on the national scale... but I am not sure how other parties will benefit," Ray told IANS.
According to Ray, political parties would not push for fresh elections "before retrieving the cost of the previous election."
Ray said the nature of coalition arrangement will decide which way the vote will go in the next polls.
The SP with its 22 MPs and the BSP with 21 MPs in the Lok Sabha form the major chunk of outside support to the UPA, which was reduced to a minority following the withdrawal of support by the Trinamool Congress's 19 MPs. Given the current arithmetic in the Lok Sabha, the government will survive even if either the BSP or the SP pulls out.
The BJP is keen to reap the electoral benefit of the various allegations of scams and corruption plaguing the government and appears most eager for early elections.
The party is likely to back any move by the Trinamool Congress to bring a no-confidence motion against the government in the winter session of parliament.
SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav had last month talked of the possibility of early Lok Sabha elections. Yadav, who harbours prime ministerial ambitions, had said he would like to strike equations with like-minded regional parties as the Congress and the BJP were weakening.
BSP chief Mayawati earlier this week sounded her party workers about the possibility of Lok Sabha elections being held before 2014 due to the "uncertainty" plaguing the UPA government.
Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party is a part of the UPA, told party workers in poll-bound Gujarat that they should gear up for snap Lok Sabha elections as political parties should be prepared at all times for polls.
Rizwan Qaiser, associate professor in the Department of History in Jamia Millia Islamia, said the possibility of early elections "appears low".
"All this is posturing. The government will manage to survive," Qaiser told IANS.
Qaiser said the SP cannot hope to repeat its winning performance in this year's assembly polls in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as people tend to vote differently in the two elections.
"The Congress won 22 seats (in UP in 2009) despite everything," he said.
BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the probability of early polls existed as the government "is in minority and is surviving on outside support".
"This government has lost confidence of the people. It has lost both moral and public support," he said.
Congress spokesperson Raashid Alvi chose not to comment on the possibility of early elections and asserted the government will last its full term.
"It is their view. The government is stable. We will complete our term," Alvi told IANS.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia said there was no possibility of an early election so long as the SP and the BSP continue to support the government.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at email@example.com)