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Congress’s habit of squandering ‘easy’ mandates

GVL Narasimha Rao
Untitled Document

New Delhi, Sept 1 – Corruption scandals like the 2G scam and Commonwealth games scam in the past year have seen a precipitous fall in the standing of the Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre. The UPA government is experiencing a midlife crisis. These developments are reminiscent of the political situation in the country in the mid-80’s when Rajiv Gandhi was the country’s prime minister.

In October 1984, Rajiv Gandhi had won a historic national mandate winning 404 parliamentary seats, surpassing all expectations. By early 1987, Rajiv Gandhi’s government was hit with the Bofors corruption scandal which consumed Rajiv Gandhi politically and practically ended his dream political run.

Switch to 2009. After winning a surprisingly large election mandate, Manmohan Singh government is experiencing a similar fate. While the chance for redeeming its lost prestige looks remote, the moot question now is whether the UPA government would manage to complete its full term of five years to last till 2014.

Easy Come, Easy Go

What comes easily also goes away easily. Perhaps, it is a human tendency not to try hard enough to preserve something that one gets easily. Both the 1984 and 2009 are ‘easy’ and unexpectedly large mandates for the Congress party. And on both the occasions, the Congress party had literally thrown away the mandates by acting in a brazen and arrogant manner. Even though a gap of 25 years separates these governments, the party’s responses, reflexes and methods employed in dealing with the corruption scams are similar.

The similarities could be due to the pivotal role played by Sonia Gandhi in both the governments. In 1984, she was the wife of the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and now she is the Leader of the UPA coalition.

It is difficult to believe that the same Sonia Gandhi outsmarted a seemingly invincible BJP to script Congress party’s ascension to power at the Centre in 2004 by striking alliances and strongly wooing even small regional players like Ramvilas Paswan and Shibu Soren. Even after coming to power, she worked hard to ensure that the UPA-1 government completes its five year term.

Fear of the BJP

It was the fear of the return of the BJP to power that made Sonia Gandhi desperate to halt the BJP’s reign at the Centre. Once again, it was the fear of the return of the BJP that kept her focused on ensuring the governmental stability. But after 2009 Lok Sabha polls in which the Congress performed way beyond its own expectations, it became overconfident once again. The Congress began to feel that the BJP was no longer a force to reckon with and its reign at the Centre would continue unhindered.

Politics abhors a vacuum

The Congress party did not learn any lessons from the past. Veterans like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were defeated in polls not because a strong opposition existed at the time. Politics abhors a vacuum. If one party vacates a political space, it will be filled by somebody else. The anti-Indira wave of 1977 and anti-Rajiv wave of 1989 were essentially negative mandates against them and parties that have the viability have encashed the popular discontent against them.

Who benefits now?

There is one crucial difference between the anti-government movement in 1989 and the present one. The electoral wave against Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 was led by his former Finance minister, V.P. Singh. In the present situation, the popular movement against corruption has been led by Anna Hazare who is outside the political spectrum. So how this movement plays out politically and who will benefit from it are questions agitating the political watchers.

If the past is any indication, the Congress party is set to incur huge losses in the next Lok Sabha polls and all its rival parties are likely to benefit from it. It would be the BJP in a number of states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Delhi etc., LDF in Kerala, BJD in Orissa, regional parties in Andhra etc. etc.

‘Rahul Factor’

The mood on the street reveals that the Congress party’s situation is beyond repair. Manmohan Singh has lost his personal esteem completely and all sections of the society are tired of him. As a desperate measure, demands are emanating from the Congress sources for Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins of the government and begin the revitalization process.

Even as Rahul’s abilities are deeply suspect, it isn’t clear if Manmohan Singh would be willing to step aside when Rahul is ready to take the top job. Or, as some of his aides think is it that the utter mishandling of various protests deliberate to dissuade Sonia Gandhi from effecting a change of prime minister?

The Congress party is like a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It requires a quick diagnosis and an urgent surgery to be able to survive. If it succeeds, it may last its full term. But if it is not able to pull itself together and loses power mid-term, the fading charisma of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and its loosening hold on the levers of power might mean that the party will not be able to regain power any time soon.

 
G V L Narasimha Rao is a noted political analyst
E-mail : nrao@lensonnews.com
 

Showing 6 comments on this article
Aabhas Pandya says:
September 01, 2011
Absolutely agree...it's the Congress party's arrogance that has scripted it's downfall...the party believed it's invincible and people will ignore the bevy of scandals because of Gandhis' charisma and a supposedly honest PM
ravi says:
September 02, 2011
my doubt is that whether mr rao is paid employee of b j p
BharatK says:
September 03, 2011
Whether corrupt Congress party stays or not, who cares. Nothning in this world stays forever, Congres will die one daya. Sooner it dies the better for our nation. There is no place for monarchy in a democrachy.
BAPTY.S says:
September 03, 2011
india has woken up from deep slumber & millions & millions especially in the south regret the 2009 folly of trusting CONGRESS & P.M MMS. THE ANNA HAZARE MOVEMENT HAS ALSO AHAKEN UP THE COUNTRY& CONGRESS CANT FOOL & GET FREEBIES FROM ELECTORATE.IN MY VIEW IF BJP ANNOUNCES A STRONG INCORRUPTIBLE,ABLE LEADER LIKE NARENDRA MODI THEY SHLD WIN COMFORTABLY. THEY SHLD TRY TO EVEN ADVANCE ELECTIONS.
Agni Shiva says:
September 04, 2011
Article gives clean picture of the Indian streets. The people are waiting for the right moment to nail the congress to the cabin for its final journey.
sasi kiran says:
September 07, 2011
can u explain why u r previous predictions ,few of them are wrong.Tell me what are those predictions.

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