A crisis is always an opportunity. The decision of the Trinamul Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee, to bid adieu to the United Progressive Alliance, has, for obvious reasons, sent the Congress leadership back to the counting board. Without denying the importance of a numerical superiority in the Lok Sabha, what should be recognized is that the whims of a political leader may have provided the prime minister and his team with the opportunity to push through certain reforms. The next session of the Lok Sabha is slated for the winter. This means that the UPA government cannot be compelled immediately to prove its majority in Parliament. It can thus proceed with the job of governance without being trammelled by the fear of opposition. It can use executive decisions to push through a few more reforms. By doing this, the government could enhance its own credibility and also revive the economy. The logic is simple: the UPA government, at the present juncture, has little or nothing to lose. If it has to go down, it should do so, as Manmohan Singh asserted, with its flag flying proudly from its mast. Mr Singh pioneered economic reforms; he should not be seen, at the end of his second term as prime minister, as a reluctant reformer.
What should also be clear to the prime minister and his colleagues is that the much-flaunted majority of the UPA in the Lok Sabha did not actually enable the government to pass any important legislation. The fear of opposition from the allies kept the government reforms shy — almost, many would aver, governance shy. With allies like the TMC, the government did not need any enemies to oppose reforms. Now that the principal opponent of economic reforms within the government is set to exit the UPA, the government should grasp the nettle, not fear it. Mr Singh needs no suggestions about the reform package that will most benefit the economy. He should not hesitate to introduce reforms. As the finance minister of the country, Mr Singh was fond of saying that “good economics make for good politics”. He should now remember his own dictum. If there is anything that will revive the flagging political fortunes of the Congress, it is a healthy dose of reforms and governance from the prime minister. The time for vacillation is over. There is a chance of grabbing victory from the jaws of certain defeat. A perceived crisis has given a possible chance.