Monday, June 21, 2021

Congress in crisis

With the resignation of Rahul Gandhi after taking moral responsibility for the failure of the Congress in 2019 elections, and the ongoing crisis in Karanataka, the Congress party is fighting for survival. The resignation of Rahul Gandhi from the post of party presidentship, however, can hardly improve the fortunes of the organization which has completely lost its ideological moorings in recent decades. Post the 2019 debacle, it has become even more disoriented as it engages in mere shadow-boxing while oscillating between ideological extremes of secularism and soft Hindutva. From the Nehruvian ideals of liberal democracy, secularism and socialism, Congress has moved a long way away and become an apologist of neo-capitalism and Hindutva. More than Gandhi’s resignation, the party is craving for re-invention, the hopes of which may seem dismal in the present scenario. This is needed more than ever now with the BJP rapidly transitioning from hidden fascism to an open one, threatening the very edifice of Indian democracy and its secular and liberal spirit. It is anybody’s guess how fast this transition would be once the BJP manages to get full majority in both house of the parliament; estimates are that this may be less than two years from now. Indeed, the BJP cannot be electorally beaten but a country facing immense onslaughts to its democratic functioning from the corridors of power requires a strong political opponent. Congress in its present form and the dissipating unity of the entire conglomerate of ideologically liberal parties pose no challenge at all. In fact, they have kept the entire floor vacant.
On the other hand, the political crisis in Karnataka is deepening. The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka has been rocked by the resignations of 18 MLAs – 16 of Cong-JD(S) and 2 Independents. Though the coalition won a breather on Tuesday after the Karnataka Speaker averred that the resignations were not in order, explaining that none of the legislators had met him, the brazen use of state machinery to stall any attempts by the Congress to broker peace between the allies and engage in negotiations with the rebels, as the drama began to unfold on Wednesday, dampens the prospects of survival of the Karnataka government. There was also relief for the Congress after the Supreme Court on Friday said no decision should be taken on the resignation or disqualification of 10 rebel coalition legislators until next Tuesday. So the next major political step is expected only early this week, when Speaker, KR Ramesh Kumar, is likely to take a call on the resignations. If the resignations are accepted, the coalition’s 118 members will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which takes its tally to 107. Though, the BJP has denied any role in the present crisis, the slew of resignations do not appear to be triggered by some epidemic but are definitely engineered. Like most such dramas revolving the game of numbers, the legislators have been collected and shipped to Mumbai on special flights. That an entire police machinery of the Maharashtra police was used to stonewall bid by the visiting Congress leader to break the ice with the rebels shows the paw prints of the BJP which is in power both at the Centre and in Maharashtra. In the backdrop of this unfolding drama, the party’s activists are holding protests across Karnataka, saying that the coalition has lost the moral authority to rule. Indeed the entire scenario which has been repeated in many states facing hung assemblies in the last several decades and once again exposes the shameful throttling of democracy. It also reveals that Indian politics is still far from negotiating coalition politics with maturity and sense of responsibility. Karnataka may not be the only casualty for the Congress which is unable to stop internal feuds and fights within the party fold. The BJP is eyeing both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, even though Congress is in majority in these states. If the Congress is unable to take timely course correction, it may find these major electoral victories of last year being wrested from its control. It must come to terms with the fact that it pitted against an adversary that is inspired by the idea of future in which opposition is completely decimated, reduced and diminished.