By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
The Lok Sabha elections in India, to be held in April-May, are crucial, and the outcome is clear under two dispensations.If the Bharatiya Janata Party wins, the Prime Minister will definitely be once again Narendra Modi, and similarly if the Congress Party wins, Rahul Gandhi will become the Prime Minister. But what is not clear is that if both the national parties – the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress Party — fail to garner the required numbers and unable to form a government, which are the parties that would emerge as third front to form a coalition government and who would be the Prime Minister?
Rahul Gandhi and his men are leaving no stone unturned to de-throne Narendra Modi, and in this effort, he even inducted, as a last ditch, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as general secretary into the Congress Party in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Some other restless parties have been exercising to form a third front (without naming it so) to give a tough fight to the BJP and unseat Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.
In the North, the effort has been initiated by Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress president and Chief Minister of West Bengal, who has called for a” United India rally” in Kolkata recently in an attempt to form a Maha Gathbandhan, with the support of former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and president of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav, and another former Chief Minister and supremo of Bahujan Samaj Party Mayawati.
More than 20 leaders from North and South India have extended their support to Mamata Banerjee and participated in the rally. Rahul Gandhi has extended his party’s support to it,but has chosen to keep away from the rally, and instead he has sent two emissaries. From the South, major support has come from Andhra Pradesh’s disgruntled Chief Minister and Telugu Desam supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has attended the rally and offered to organize a similar rally in Amaravati, the State capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The others, who have supported and participated in the rally, included former Prime Minister H.D. Devegowda, his son and Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy; DMK president M.K. Stalin; Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal; Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav; National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and former J & K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah; and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
If this is the composition of a new dispensation, the probable Prime Ministerial candidates will be more than half a dozen and the main contenders will include Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Chandrababu Naidu and Akhilesh Yadav. It looks that they will be uncompromising if anything less than the Prime Minister post is offered.
As of now the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an alliance of center-right parties led by ruling BJP is heading the present Central Government; and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), a coalition of center-left parties, is supporting the Congress Party, that has been functioning as the Opposition in current Parliament. For all practical purposes, though BJP got absolute majority, it has honored the pre-2014 election understanding with the alliance with center-right parties in forming the government and has been administering the national government.
But Rahul Gandhi has been aggressively campaigning with his almost “a lie a day” norm with a sole aim to dislodge Narendra Modi and occupy his seat. He has once claimed that he has a vital information in his possession that would put the Modi government in the dock, but nothing of that sort has happened. The Rafael fighter aircraft deal, which is aimed to strengthen the countries defense against Pakistan’s frequent border overtures, and its support to the terrorists groups, has come as a latest weapon for Rahul Gandhi to make “baseless” corruption charge to defame the Modi government. He has even tried to play a “doctored” tape in the Lok Sabha to prove his corruption charge against Narendra Modi. In his latest effort, Rahul Gandhi even claimed that he met in Goa ailing Manohar Parikkar, who allegedly confirmed certain information about the Rafael deal, but Monohar Parikkar openly exposed Rahul Gandhi’s lie over the issue.
On a previous occasion, Rahul Gandhi’s supporters wanted proof for the much-talked-about Indian defense forces’ surgical strike on terrorist camps on the Indo-Pak border, while his party leaders on several occasions shamelessly played into the hands of Pak leaders in their raising derogatory slogans against India.
In the ensuing 2019 elections though either the BJP or the Congress Party has not officially broken their pre-2014 poll alliances with their supporting parties, (except the Telugu Desam Party which withdrew its support to NDA) the emerging scene seems to be a keen contest between the BJP and the Congress Party. Narendra Modi,who has been recognized as an able administrator and who means business, and his disciplined and corruption-free popular and successful BJP government have become an envy of the Congress Party and its supporters. The single and only one agenda for the Congress Party now is to dislodge Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, defeat BJP and install Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as country’s Prime Minister. In this effort, the parties opposed to BJP have started joining hands and supporting the Congress Party.
This anti-Modi and anti-BJP tirade of the Congress Party, its allies and supporting parties has been expressively visible within and outside Parliament, and because of the chaos created by them, several valuable hours of the Parliament sessions have been wasted without turning out any tangible and constructive work.
The need for a strong nationalistic feeling, which should be the basis for secular ideology among all religious groups of India,has been the emphasis of the BJP,but this has been misconstrued as Hindutva and given a communal color by the Congress Party and its supporters. In fact the ideology of secularism of the Congress Party and its supporting parties is appeasement and showering of concessions on certain religious groups with a view to promoting a vote bank. The Congress Party has survived on such misconstrued ideology during pre-and-post India’s Independence period. Unfortunately, this misconstrued Congress ideology has attracted the minorities and weaker sections, though the successive Congress governments headed by the members of the Gandhi-Nehru family have not done anything substantively to uplift them, but by offering them some concessions and sops that have encouraged disunity among people and promoted partisan politics.
The successive Congress governments, during their 50-odd years of rule, which popularized slogans like “Garibi Hatao,” has hardly done anything towards alleviation of poverty in the country. But the Congress Party now has chosen to expect miracles in the five-year term of the NDA government led by BJP. The BJP has brought several reforms that have begun to show results despite the non-cooperative attitude of the Congress Party and its supporting parties at every stage. Under Narendra Modi’s governance,the nation has been freed from rampant corruption with transparent functioning of the government in many vital areas. The economy has improved, certain government procedures have been simplified and made transparent,several infrastructural facilities like roads, transportation, irrigation and agriculture, railways, airports, seaports, health, sanitation and rural development have been taken up. India’s defense forces have been strengthened multifold. The World Bank has recently announced that it hopes that its ensuing June report may show a drastic drop in the number of the poor in India.
The much criticized demonetization has driven a sense of fear among those who otherwise have been running parallel economy in the country. It might have caused hardships among the poor initially, but they have wholeheartedly supported it. Banks have been made accessible to the poor people and all high value transactions are now done in a transparent way. The much opposed GST Act has brought tax discipline, the tax collection has been simplified, and the result has been, that the tax collection has in the country improved.
The jobless Congress Party leaders are restless; some “immature” politicians including its president Rahul Gandhi, do not know the etiquettes of Parliament. Rahul Gandhi, who is projected as the future Prime Minister of India, hugs the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha, but at the same time mockingly winks at his colleagues is a matter of shame.
With the induction of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as general secretary,the Congress Party is supposed to improve the image of the party in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The Congress Party, which suffered severe drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has not still recovered. Even in the last 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP has scored absolute majority in the UP. It was only the anti-incumbency sentiment that has helped the Congress Party to win in the November-2018 Assembly elections in North Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. This success cannot be treated as a litmus test of the coming Lok Sabha elections.
With so many facts coming to light about the Congress Party and its leaders, and the court cases pending against them, it is better for Rahul Gandhi and his ilk to exercise restraint in making baseless allegations against others.
Cases are pending in courts against Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra. Indian voters are intelligent enough and they know for whom to vote.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao