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Two years of Modi sarkar: Disastrous for Congress parivar

It conjures up an image of a disruptive group inside Parliament, while outside its mandate is at its lowest.

 |  7-minute read |   25-05-2016
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Whatever be the performance of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in the last two years, but the show of the Congress as the principal opposition party in the last two years has surely been disastrous. Whether it was inside Parliament or outside it, there was much to be desired from the 130-year-old party. Instead of playing the role of a constructive and responsible Opposition, the Congress is seen as a destructive party. It conjures up an image of a disruptive group inside Parliament. Outside it, the so-called pan-Indian party is shrinking like the several water bodies during this peak summer of 2016.

These are the five points which explain the Congress' impression in the minds of majority of the people:

1. Noisy, disruptive Congress

Think of the Congress in Parliament and you will instantly get an image of the members of the main opposition party shouting - shouting on their seats or shouting inside the well of the two Houses - or boycotting the houses, holding dharnas near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a bid to grab media attention. By their disruptive tactics, they had forced near total washout of two crucial sessions - the monsoon and winter sessions of 2015, leading to monumental loss of money, time and resources. Imagine the loss of money - each minute of running Parliament during sessions costs the exchequer Rs 2.5 lakh and each hour costs Rs 1.5 crore. The country lost a whopping Rs 260 crore during the monsoon session and around the same amount during the winter session. More than the wastage, the country has been deprived of the vital Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and other legislations.

2. Embarrassment over Leader of Opposition's post

The Congress won only 44 of the 543 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and, despite being the largest Opposition party, it ended up forfeiting its claim for the post of the Leader of Opposition. Constitutionally, it should have won at least 10 per cent, or 55 seats, of the total elected seats to claim the coveted post. But the party suffered a double whammy as the Modi government decided to go by the rule book. Instead of accepting its position and stature, the Congress moved court. However, even the Supreme Court rejected its plea, embarrassing the party.

3. Defeats in Assembly elections

Outside Parliament, the Congress suffered the biggest loss in the form of defeats in the Assembly elections since the last Lok Sabha elections. It lost one state after another, such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Assam and Kerala. In suffered the biggest humiliation in Delhi where it failed to even open an account in the 2015 Assembly election, the worst result for the party so far. Its only solace has been Bihar where it won 27 of 243 seats, just by being the most junior partner of the alliance with chief minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and Lalu Prasad's RJD. The party has now got reduced to being in power in just six states, having lost equal number of states in the last couple of years. It now rules over just 7 per cent of the population. On the other hand, the BJP is in power in 12 states, governing 43 per cent of the population.

The Congress' humiliating defeat in Assam and Kerala on May 19 prompted party general secretary Digvijaya Singh to demand a "major surgery" within the party. However, he could not convincingly elaborate on the major surgery which was required to rejuvenate the party.

Nothing is really going to change in the Congress if one goes by the trend available so far. After the Sheila Dikshit government lost power to Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the December 2013 Delhi Assembly election, Rahul had said: "I think the AAP involved a lot of people who the traditional political parties did not involve. We are going to learn from that and do a better job than anybody in the country and involve people in ways you cannot even imgaine now." However, three years down the line, nothing has changed on ground, not even the 56-day sabbatical of Rahul in February-April, 2015.

4. Personal dent to Sonia and Rahul's image

rahulsoniainside2505_052516081855.jpg Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the Patiala House court on December 19, 2015.

Apart from the Congress suffering a loss of face due to electoral losses, the first family of the party has borne a personal blow due to the National Herald cheating case, multi-million dollar AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam and allegations of corruption by Sonia's son-in-law Robert Vadra in land deals. In the National Herald case, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy dragged party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi to court. It was for the first time that the mother-son duo were forced to appear in a court (Patiala House sessions court) as accused persons. They had tried their best to evade personal appearance in the court. They were granted bail but still are accused persons.

In the chopper scam, the BJP has been successful in creating a perception among the people that Sonia has been involved directly or indirectly to the scam, which has originated from Italy, her original home country.

5. Instability in Congress-ruled states

Even in the six states where the Congress is in power, its governments are not stable or are unlikely to come back to power in the next elections in their respective states. It shows the deep division within the party that nine party MLAs, led by former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, rebelled against chief minister Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand. Though Rawat managed to retain power, the party is surviving on oxygen provided by Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), independents and others. Rawat has been questioned by the CBI for allegations of offering bribe to MLAs to support his government during floor test.

The same spectre was witnessed in Arunachal Pradesh and the Congress lost power after its MLAs revolted against the party. The party is not in a comfortable position in the other states, such as Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh (where chief minister Virbhadra Singh is an accused in financial irregularities) either. The BJP is aggressively campaigning in the remaining three states - Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram - where the Congress is in power.

The Congress suffered a major embarrassment when a close aide of former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was caught in a sting operation allegedly inciting the Jat reservation agitation in February. Virender Singh admitted that the voice was his but claimed that the context of the conversation had got distorted. Despite this clarification, the Congress stood maligned due to his involvement in the stir which saw several deaths, injuries, property loss and even rapes.

The most unfortunate part is that the Congress does not show any resolve for course correction. Worse, it is being accused of promotion of dynasty. Sonia has been the party's president since 1998 and Rahul is the vice-president since 2013 but the party's fortunes are continuously on the decline. There are demands for involvement of Rahul's sister Priyanka Vadra in politics. This has only strengthened the belief of the people that the party cannot look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family.

The party had lost power in 2014 due to a perception of corruption in the wake of a string of scams like the 2G Spectrum, coal block allocation, Adarsh Housing Society and Commonwealth Games. The BJP was also successful in driving home the point, particularly in a large state like Uttar Pradesh, that parties like the Congress and the Samajwadi Party were indulging in minority appeasement. That perception has got strengthened with passage of time. These three factors have seen a continuous decline of the Congress. If the trend continues, it will not be long if Modi is successful in fulfilling his pledge of making a "Congress-mukt Bharat" after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Writer

Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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