After the hard-fought Assembly polls, it seems that the battle for the 2019 is going to be tough and perilous for all the political parties
The fact that BJP put up a tough fight in the just concluded Assembly Polls in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh despite a strong anti-incumbency in those states, what the Congress will do now is no brainer after all, as the Rahul Gandhi-led party will use its new-found political victory to exact a sweet revenge on Modi Government by engineering an atmosphere of political chaos and uncertainty in the coming months leading up to the 2019 General Election.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the media on the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi will undoubtedly exploit the situation to further embarrass Modi-led BJP on various issues thereby maintain the momentum to regain voters confidence.
Going by the past precedence, there is no intellectual wisdom to predict a tumultuous Parliament session likely to adjourn sine die. Tsunami-like turbulence is on the cards. On grand display will be loud and vociferous scenes with Members of Parliament, so-called leaders expected to set standards of constructive debates, rushing into the “Well of both Houses of Parliament” and stalling the proceedings.
Tax-payers money would be squandered. Let no one suffer from illusions on the above count. With the BJP humbled at the polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by the Congress Party and badly bruised in other states, the Opposition parties will undoubtedly aim to further vilify and influence the voters against Modi and the BJP.
“Save democracy and Institutions” will be the main focus of the Opposition Parties. Of course, other key issues include Rafale, CBI vs CBI, Urjit Patel — RBI Governor’s resignation, farmer’s suicides, and so on.
“Ram Mandir” issue would be the focus of Shiv Sena and the strident members of the BJP in the forefront.
Certainly, Modi and the BJP will be at their “wits ends” or on the defensive to face the onslaught of the combined opposition to embarrass them. Also, there may be internal rebellion from the extreme right-wing colleagues.
Governance Paralysis” for the next six months would be inevitable. Most disconcerting would be the likelihood of a “Hung Lok Sabha” that would imply political instability which would be adverse from the national security point of view.
Modi-led BJP may attempt to counter the Opposition offensive by anti-corruption tirade and even pass the Ram Mandir Bill in the Lok Sabha to be stalled in the Rajya Sabha. However, the extradition of Christian Michel and Vijay Mallya to follow may not be able to make a significant dent on the Opposition onslaught. Even corruption scandals like Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi may be fast-tracked to impress the voters. However, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s flight will continue to haunt Modi and the BJP.
Of course, fast-tracking the cases against Sonia and Rahul Ghandy “National Herald Case” and Robert Vadra’s scams may also be used to counter the Congress Party. Add to them, Chidambaram’s corruption cases among many others including Raja of DMK involved in Coal Scam cases roaming free.
Note all alike must that the CBI court recently convicted three senior bureaucrats for corruption in the allocation of coal blocks to include: former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, IAS, K S Kropha, then Joint Secretary and KC Samaria, the then Director of Ministry of Coal.
The travesty it is, but true, that the real culprit in the Rs 1,85,600 Coal Scam is none other than the Minister-in-charge, that is, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, who is roaming free — Mr Clean — and crying hoarse as per Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s diktat against Modi and the BJP. In 2004, coal secretary P C Parakh informed PM the potential fraud inherent in the discretionary allocation of the captive coal fields and objected to it in writing. Still, all the 142 coal blocks were allocated without auction during the Prime Minister's tenure in the coal ministry. PC Parakh who is considered the whistleblower for the Coalgate said that he pushed for auctions, but was overruled by the Prime Minister.
Similarly, in yet another high-fly corruption case all the prime accused involved in the alleged Rs 1,76, 645 crore 2G Spectrum allocations scam, notably the prime accused A Raja of DMK, Minister of Telecommunications, M K Kanimozhi and all bureaucrats, have been acquitted by the Supreme Court. Today, they form part of the Mahaghatabandhan sore group. Add to them, others involved in Commonwealth Games (Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and AK Mattoo, Sheila Dikshit Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharti B S Lalli and former Director General (Doordarshan) Aruna Sharma under relevant Sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act for their alleged act of omission and commission).
Adarsh Housing (Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil, two former urban development ministers: Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare and 12 top bureaucrats involved) scams among many others are roaming free and pursuing their political careers riding on the back of “key controversies’ of today.
In sum, the high-decibel acrimonious allegations against each other may be good theatrical entertainment but least vital to emotionally swing voter’s moods.
Most important, people have placed the “Crowns of Thorns” on the Congress Party in the three main Hindi-heartland States. Thus, the responsibility and accountability rest squarely on the Congress Party to fulfil the promises made in the “Election Manifestos”.
By no stretch of far-fetched imagination can one expect the Congress Party governments to resolve the farmer's plights particularly Opium farmers protests in Rajasthan besides waiving off farm loans or reducing prices of petrol and diesel.
Similarly, it is not easy to resolve tribal community demands in the 1,500 km long tribal belt that stretches from southern Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh particularly the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA), implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), rampant unemployment and failure to provide remunerative prices for forest and agricultural produce. Voters are no longer gullible. They are impatient. They want instant results. And, it is a Himalayan Challenge for rulers to satisfy voter’s demands.
With climate challenge, there is every possibility of drought likely what with the failure of winter rains. It may further result in highly adversarial confrontations what with the Opposition taking to streets against the ruling regimes in the States. Ultimately, the future course of the nation will depend on the sagacity of “We the People” to decide on political stability or instability paving the path for anarchy and chaos.
(The writer is Hyderabad-based strategic and political analyst)