Trust gone, UPA's defeat in next poll is inevitable

Posted on June 18, 2011 by G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, under Elections

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In the life cycle of elected governments, a time comes when the public support decisively swings from one of enjoying inherent trust to one in which people have lost implicit trust. In case of some governments, this happens very rapidly and in some others, it takes a very long time as was the case with the Left Front in West Bengal which had an uninterrupted reign of 34 years.

Usually, a major decision or action precipitates this dramatic shift of public perceptions about an elected government. In Left ruled West Bengal, the agitation in Singur provided the stimulus. In the case of the UPA government, the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters – after meekly acquiescing to him and rolling out the red carpet at Delhi airport – has provided that spark.

I have been keeping tabs on public opinion for several months now and the extensive ground level feedback that we have gathered shows that the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s fast was the turning point and turned the supporting masses against the Congress led government at the Centre. Admittedly, it has taken many years in office and many scams in its wake to pierce the credibility of the Congress led government at the Centre. And, once the credibility of a regime is eroded, it is impossible to regain it. Rajiv Gandhi government never recovered from the Bofors scandal that broke out just two years after he won a landslide victory in 1984 and faced a humiliating defeat in 1989. Similarly, P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government never recovered from a series of scandals – securities scam, JMM scandal, Sukhram’s telecom scam, Urea scam, etc. –that led to its devastating poll defeat in 1996.

It is instructive to study how the governments in the past tried to recover ground when they were confronted with extremely adverse situations. Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975 following Allahabad High Court’s verdict declaring her election to Lok Sabha as void; Rajiv Gandhi’s associates forged documents purporting to show that his principal challenger V.P. Singh had a secret bank account in a foreign bank in St. Kitts; V.P. Singh himself unleashed the anti-quota stir by implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990; P.V. Narasimha Rao raked up years old Hawala scandal to fix political rivals in 1995 etc.

Circa 2011, the Congress party facing an unprecedented crisis over corruption charges can be expected to do all that the past governments have done and much more to survive politically. But the UPA presently has a serious problem at hand.

First, it faces a multitude of scams and myriad issues like black money, corruption, price rise etc. With every passing week, new scams are coming out of the closet. Undoubtedly, 2G is one scam that has damaged the UPA government the most. The scale of the loot and its brazen manner has had a devastating impact on the public. Curiously, the 2G scam which has claimed many top leaders of the DMK hasn’t yet reached the Congress’s doorstep. The manner in which the Congress party stymied the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) probe led by the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi and the tardy functioning of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the 2G scam have aroused suspicions about the Congress party’s motives and involvement.

Second, unlike in the past when governments faced one major scam and a clearly identified political rival, the Congress party is faced with a barrage of attacks from an active judiciary, a demanding civil society led by popular Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, a rejuvenated opposition, vigilant media and statutory institutions like the CAG. Despite the Sonia Gandhi led Congress party’s best attempts to emasculate high offices of the Prime Minister, President by appointing pliable individuals to these venerable institutions, the Congress party has not been able to avoid public scrutiny as other institutions of the government have turned their heat on the government.

True to its habit, the Congress party will attempt some drastic actions to regain its lost credibility. It will unleash vendetta against opposition leaders and attempt to show that all those arraigned against the Congress are corrupt. It will create and exploit every opportunity to rake up non-issues to divert public attention.

It may even resort to dividing the electorate on caste, communal or some other lines to minimize the electoral damage. This may actually backfire on the Congress party that traditionally has had a wide appeal across various caste and other groups. Yet, a desperate Congress party may make some cynical moves to get out of the corruption rut. Attempts to link activists like Anna Hazare with the RSS are a part of this cynical strategy.

Take my word: nothing will help restore the present government’s credibility. Let me explain this from my experience as a poll analyst for two decades. When a government enjoys public trust, all its actions are generally seen from a positive perspective. And, when a government is seen to be inherently untrustworthy, all its actions become suspect. All actions of the Manmohan Singh government will henceforth be viewed from a negative perspective due to the credibility crisis that envelopes it.

The Manmohan Singh government, despite enjoying a parliamentary majority is a lame duck government. Whether it lasts the full term or dies a premature death will depend on its political survival strategies. For sure, in the public mind, it has already lost its mandate. Its defeat at polls, whenever they are held, is an inevitability that stares it in its face.

GVL Narasimha Rao is a noted poll analyst

Response to: Trust gone, UPA's defeat in next poll is inevitable

Muppi says:
June 18, 2011
Sir, how will you justify your article taking EVMs into consideration. What if 2014 is already plotted with EVMs. All that UPA needs to do is some trechery and win 2014. Credibility is not required.
Kalyan says:
June 16, 2011
I read your article on LensONnews with interest. Your analysis is very much spot on. While the Congress may be on a path of self-destruction (a well deserved one), the calculus of electoral politics requires that there be a credible and agile Opposition to take advantage of the situation. I am concerned that we are not ready. Your thoughts...? I would like your candid ones.
Surendra Srivastava says:
June 16, 2011
Three challenges are before India: 1- Public Memory is short and elections are three years away. 2- There is no credible opposition. In fact the role Anna and Baba Ramdevji are playing is actually is that of opposition. 3- There is no credible alternate political platform with ethical politics and hence nothing much will change even if opposition is in seat of governance. 4- Lastly but very important that Congress is already working for win in next election. Forthcoming "Direct Cash Transfer Scheme" instead of subsidy, though it is the right policy for country, but timing chosen by congress makes them front runner in next elections. Some time in 2013, govt will launch direct Cash Transfer Scheme for 12 crore families. With about Rs. 2500/- in hand every month and average four votes per family, congress is home and dry and in power for next five years. Though this money belongs to people and they will get in lieu of PDS etc (which they are already getting) but in the current status (level of awareness) of society and with my-bap culture, this is the tool that every political party plays with and congress has mastered the art. Last time, it was "Farmer Loan Waiver" and "Narega" and next time "DCT Scheme". Opposition is not able to handle congress and Lok Satta still does not have reach to explain to people from now that what you going get is your own money and not any favor from the government or congress party. Unless we all can create this awareness and build an alternate credible, ethical political platform, we will have to live with congress and keep fighting.
G M Sastry says:
June 16, 2011
Good article GVL!
Uday says:
June 16, 2011
Hey, nice piece!!
Rajanikanth Shastri says:
June 16, 2011
I sincerely hope your analysis and prediction comes true and that the UPA will be swept out of office in the next election. However, with the majority of Indian voters in rural districts and poor, money and subsidies will be the dominant determinant. Today parties buy their way into office as seen in Tamil Nadu. Surendraji's analysis is quite interesting and bears merit. The recent movement by Anna Hazare is an indication of disenfranchised urban middle class population making their statement. This is an ideal example of what Democracy is about and something India can show case to the world. The Congress however seeing this as a threat to their situation is howling that this is misuse of Democracy and labeling it extra-parliamentary, political terrorism, black-mail etc. And out idiotic TV media is sensationalizing this and adding fuel to both the pro and con fires. The fact is you and I or anyone else can author a bill and if we find a significant party to introduce it into Parliament and it passes, it becomes law. In that sense Parliament is supreme. The vision I have for India is a complete implementation of the Federal System, that was intended in the constitution, where the States have more and more power. India is too diverse a State to be served by a National Party. Instead I hope to see States like Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and UP become more the norm rather than the exception. This parties will form a coalition government with each party pulling for its State.Ultimately it is the distribution of Central funds and laws that are applied consistently across the Republic that matter.
R. Viswam says:
June 17, 2011
With bjp continuing tobe in disarray, Congress will squeeze through. Let it be so.Betweensomebody like Sushma Swaraj and Rahul Gandhi, Rahul will win hands down.
Kiran says:
June 17, 2011
You are spot on,the problem i Congress unleashes guys like Kapil Sibal , Digvijay singh who think people will accept all the Bull**** they say. The major problem is that the Opposition is weak, who will people vote for( BJP have leadership crisis)
ulhas says:
June 23, 2011
Your analysis is Bang on spot.The congress has lost the trust of the people- to make matters worse it sends tricksters like Kapil Sibal to solve matters.Sibal thinks he's doing a grand job; but is completely oblivious to the fact; that people have seen through him and his trickery. Now it's up to the other parties to provide us with a credible alternative to this UPA. Also it's high time the Congress kept away from the completely corrupt NCP.
R.Sajan says:
June 27, 2011
We may remember how once 'India was shining' and the BJP mysteriously lost. Again in the last Election, nobody expected the Congress to come back; yet, the unforeseen happened. One tends to feel that as long as we have the mysterious EVMs, election results will be pre-determined from wherever the Illuminati for India is; and not by the voters.
Raju says:
June 27, 2011
Good work and excellent reading but Hindus are the most passive mass. In the nation where NAC can draft a law which very much against the Hindu Interest, they still will not vote as a block! I hope to be wrong.

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 G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, -G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, 45, is a leading election analyst and a political commentator.


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