New Delhi, April 28: The hint of a hung Parliament has energised ailing CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet, but the political compulsions of the key players in the post-poll scenario make for a hazy picture, perhaps even for the veteran dealmaker.
If the NDA slips in the race for numbers, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will hold the trump card. He has the right connections in the Left, and even the BJP might prefer him to the other secularists as both share a common interest in scuppering the Congress.
But his Muslim-Yadav vote bank, already under strain, will be in jeopardy if he is seen supping with the NDA. Minority community leaders in Uttar Pradesh are giving him a last chance in view of widespread rumours of a Samajwadi-NDA understanding.
The BJP could topple the Samajwadi government in Uttar Pradesh as Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi, of the BJP, has not given a ruling on the controversial Bahujan Samaj Party split. BSP legislators had broken away in instalments, adding up to one-third of Mayavati’s flock and giving the Samajwadi majority.
The chief minister, however, might get a breather if Tripathi, who is contesting the polls, is elected to the Lok Sabha.
The other Yadav, Laloo Prasad, today added to Mulayam Singh’s discomfiture, accusing him of splitting secular votes in connivance with the BJP and saying a non-NDA government will be installed “minus Mulayam Singh Yadav”.
Categorically stating that Mulayam Singh is not a part of the Congress-led secular alliance, Laloo Prasad ruled out taking his support to form the government. Sonia Gandhi could head the government, the Bihar leader said, and if she refuses, secular leaders would elect one. But he is not in the race this time.
Sharad Pawar — the ambitious Maratha leader — is emerging as the favourite soft target of the BJP. Even before the second phase of polling was over, he said he is available for the post of Prime Minister. By declaring that acceptability, not numbers, is the main criterion for the top post, he has sent alarm bells ringing in the Congress. Hardcore Gandhi family loyalists will not back his candidature.
With his failing health, there is a perception that he is not a long-term player and wants to have a good time as Prime Minister or deputy Prime Minister in any government.
Unlike Mulayam Singh, he is not inhibited by the Muslim factor. But the Shiv Sena might oppose a big post for him in the NDA.
Among the other key players, Mayavati has neither political nor ideological compulsion. Her politics is guided by self-interest. Watchers say her prime concern would be the multi-crore Taj corridor scam and she might back any power that looks set to form the government.
Jayalalithaa, too, does not have any ideological compulsions. Like Mayavati, her worry is to get out of the three corruption cases pending against her. If the rival DMK notches up a much better tally, ally BJP might knock on its door. In that case, Tamil Nadu watchers say she can even back a Congress-led government sans Sonia.
DMK chief M. Karunanidhi will try his best to get a non-NDA government installed. If foiled, he might not have any compunction in backing his former ally. The ageing DMK veteran cannot fight Jayalalithaa without the backing of the Centre. His political survival will be in jeopardy at the hands of a vengeful Jayalalithaa, who had put Vaiko in jail for more over 19 months.
George Fernandes — believed to be an architect of the 1999 fiasco by cajoling Mulayam Singh to ditch Sonia — will do anything to extend the Congress stay on the Opposition benches. But he will be severely handicapped if the NDA numbers dip drastically. This time, good friend Mulayam Singh, under Muslim scrutiny, might not be able to oblige him.