ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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SRI LANKA-Another Set-back

successfully adopted, and the Congress has more or less consistently followed ever since, in Tamil Nadu of supporting a local political formation to rule the state in return for a disproportionate share of the Lok Sabha seats from the state for the Congress. Certainly, in the case of Tamil Nadu, this arrange ent has suited very well the AIADMK (or on occasion the DMK) on the one hand and the central leadership of the Congress on the other. And Narasimha Rao's need for a similar arrangement in UP is especially acute just now. The Congress strength in the present Lok Sabha is drawn overwhelmingly from the southern states. But, what with the Telugu Desam's political revival in Andhra Pradesh and the palpable growth of support for the BJP in Karnataka, the Congress certainly cannot expect to repeat its performance in the southern states in the next Lok Sabha polls. So a political alliance which holds the promise of enabling the party to pick up a clutch of seats from UP, which in any case sends the largest number of MPs by far among all the states, must have an important place in any game plan of Narasimha Rao's for the 1996 parliamentary elections. The price, of course, will have to be paid by the state Congress Party in UP, just as it has been paid by the local Congress in Tamil Nadu. But this is something which Narasimha Rao no doubt reckons he can live with. After all, the progressive decimation of the Congress in UP beginning with the Janata Dal upsurge of 1989 has not seriously interfered with his prime ministership so far. Unfortunately for N D Tiwari, a new factor has now entered the picture. This is the prospect, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ayodhya case, of the BJP and its allies stepping up their campaign on the Ramjanmabhoomi issue. Inevitably, UP will be a major focal point of the BJP's efforts, leading to Mulayam Singh emerging once again as a bulwark of opposition to Hindu communal forces. In that situation will Tiwari be able to sustain his demand for the Congress ditching Mulayam Singh? To be sure, rallying secular political forces to his side has not played a conspicuous role so far in Narasimha Rao's stratagems to counter the Hindutva campaign on Ramjanmabhoomi. His preference right from the beginning clearly has been for trying to play the BJP's game; witness the tenacity he has shown in getting together the group of Shankaracharyas and other Hindu religious personages to set up, with all support from the Congress Party and the government, the so-called Ramalaya trust to counter the other side's Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas as the agency to build the Hindu temple in Ayodhya. In the face of a stepped up BJP campaign in UP, a hardening of the prime minister's stand against the Congress snapping its links with Mulayam Singh will certainly not mean an abandonment of this basic approach on the Ayodhya issue itself. It will Only mark an attempt on Rao's part to use the BJP factor to more effectively counter the demand of the UP Congress led by N D Tiwari to withdraw Congress support to Mulayam Singh and advance his own agenda of transporting the Tamil Nadu model to UP with his eye on the 1996 Lok Sabhaelections. To be sure, the political plot promises to thicken in UP.

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