M A I N   N E W S

UPA’s deft move comes at crucial time
Anita Katyal/TNS

New Delhi, November 21
The beleaguered UPA government today dealt a political masterstroke by taking the bold decision to hang Ajmal Kasab, one of the Pakistani perpetrators of the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks.

Operation X, as it was code-named, executed impeccably and in absolute secrecy by the Centre and the Maharashtra government, may well prove to be turning point for the Congress-led UPA government as it attempts a serious image makeover.

Planning Ahead

The UPA government has been on the defensive on the issues of corruption, price rise and policy paralysis. It is preparing for a stormy winter session of Parliament. A combined Opposition and allies like the Samajwadi Party and the DMK plan to isolate the ruling combine in Parliament. Kasab’s hanging has deflected attention from these raging issues.

Weighed down by a series of corruption charges and accused of ineffective governance, the UPA government sought to demonstrate today that it was not indecisive as it was being made out to be and nor was it soft on the issue of terror.

In fact, it has successfully stolen the BJP’s anti-terror plank. Little wonder then that the BJP was had little choice, but to welcome the execution with party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain saying “better late than never”.

The UPA government began reasserting itself over a month ago when it decided to push ahead with its reforms agenda, including the contentious policy on FDI in multi-brand retail, even at the risk of losing support of the Trinamool Congress. Kasab’s execution has taken this process forward.

The timing of the hanging is crucial. It comes at a time when the UPA government has been on the defensive on the issues of corruption, price rise and policy paralysis.

Moreover, the ruling combine is preparing for a stormy winter session of Parliament commencing tomorrow. A combined Opposition as well as its allies like the Samajwadi Party and the DMK, who have opposed the government’s move to open up the retail sector to foreign investments, plan to isolate the ruling combine by asking for vote on this issue in Parliament.

Kasab’s hanging has effectively deflected attention from these raging issues. Besides, the Gujarat elections are round the corner and though Chief Minister Narendra Modi is ahead in the race, the Congress will now have something to crow about in the ensuing campaign.

In the hindsight, it becomes clear why New Delhi asked Pakistan to cancel its Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s visit on November 22-23 for operationalisation of the landmark Indo-Pak visa agreement though the official reason given was the upcoming winter session of Parliament. Similarly, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Iran was called off abruptly.

A senior UPA minister maintained that the government’s new avatar may not wipe away the accumulated anti-incumbency against the UPA government, but it will certainly change the ongoing political discourse. “The overall mood about the government will definitely shift in our favour,” he said.




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