The Telegraph
Saturday , December 8 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal twins lick wounds

New Delhi, Dec. 7: Bengal rivals Trinamul and CPM seem the biggest losers of the FDI fracas while their cow-belt cousins preen themselves over their pragmatism.

The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today counted the gains of being on the right side of the government, notwithstanding the charge of “opportunism” hurled at them by the Opposition.

In contrast, the Left and Trinamul mulled over the perils of being seen as hobnobbing with the “communal forces”.

Ironically, it was the CPM’s ideology-driven position that ended in the party appearing closer to the BJP, which has left many of its members uncomfortable. Its efforts to get the non-Congress, non-BJP parties on its side failed, with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati gravitating towards the Congress.

CPM leaders were not hopeful of their stand on FDI delivering any substantial electoral dividends. They realised, anyway, that any gains would have to be shared with rival Trinamul, which took a similar stand.

Trinamul had pulled out the stops in opposing retail FDI, trying to prove it was a deeper shade of red than the Red. The only consolation prize it was left clutching was the claim that it had succeeded in showing the UPA up as a minority government.

“The mandate today proves that UPA II is a minority government…. The government has lost its credibility. They must take a fresh verdict from the people,” Mamata Banerjee wrote on her Facebook page.

However, the majority opinion in political circles is that the FDI votes have strengthened the government. Trinamul’s strident anti-Congress stand has made it appear closer to the BJP. Many party MPs feared that this was not prudent, given the party’s dependence on its Muslim vote bank in Bengal.

“What shall we do in the case of a split verdict in 2014? Should we support the NDA?” a Trinamul MP wondered.

CPM leaders were left squirming a day after voting with the BJP in the Lok Sabha as BJP and Shiv Sena members shouted pro-Ram temple slogans in the House to mark the 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

“We made a political point by opposing the FDI policy firmly. But I am not very happy about joining hands with the BJP, whose communal agenda is still intact,” a CPM member said.

In contrast, the Samajwadis appeared content. A leader said that by helping the Congress on the FDI vote and the presidential elections, the party had extracted significant central funds for Uttar Pradesh.

“We would not have gained anything by voting with the BJP,” a party MP said.

Mulayam is eyeing the Prime Minister’s chair, anticipating a split verdict in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He knows he cannot make it on his own steam and is looking to the Congress to prop him.

Unlike the Left, the cow-belt parties do not have any ideological opposition to economic reforms, which have no impact on their votes.

“Our friends in the Left had warned us that we would pay for supporting the Indo-US nuclear deal (in 2008). But we returned to power,” a Samajwadi leader said.

The CPM today lashed out at the heartland twins. “The government was able to manoeuvre to get the motion against FDI in retail defeated. This was possible due to the opportunism of the SP (Samajwadi Party) and the dubious position adopted by the BSP,” a politburo statement said.