SPECULATIONS ABOUT CONGRESS’ FATE IN 2014
Speculations are on these days as to what is likely to happen in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, ordinarily scheduled to take place in 2014.
A fortnight back Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh hosted a Dinner in honour of outgoing Rashtrapati Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil. The function was held at Hyderabad House.
In an informal chat with two senior Cabinet Ministers before the formal dinner, I could clearly perceive an intense sense of concern weighing on the minds of both these Ministers. Their apprehensions were as follows :
a) In the Sixteenth Elections to the Lok Sabha, neither the Congress nor the BJP may be able to forge an alliance which has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha.
b) In 2013 or 2014, therefore, whenever the Lok Sabha elections take place, the Government likely to take shape can be that of the Third Front. This, according to the Congress Ministers would be extremely harmful not only for the stability of Indian politics but also for national interests.
My response to the anxiety voiced by these Congressmen was: I can understand your concern, but I do not share it. My own view is:
i) The shape which national polity has acquired in the past two and a half decades makes it practically impossible for any government to be formed in New Delhi which does not have the support either of the Congress or of the BJP. A third Front Government, therefore, can be ruled out.
ii) A non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is however feasible. This has happened in the past also.
But, as the Prime Ministership of Ch. Charan Singh, Chandrashekharji, Deve Gowdaji and Inder Kumar ji Gujral (all supported by Congress) as also of Vishwanath Pratap Singhji (supported by BJP) have shown, such governments have never lasted long.
iii) There has been stability at the Centre only when the Government has had either a Congress or a BJP Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the two Governments since 2004, U.P.A I and U.P.A II have both been so badly mismanaged that the current state of anxiety in the ruling establishment is quite understandable.
People generally believe that for the Congress Party, the worst phase in so far as Lok Sabha results are concerned, were the post-Emergency elections of 1977. It would not at all be surprising if the next Lok Sabha elections yield a result which for the Congress may prove the worst in its history since 1952.
Soothsayers are not wanting who predict that it may be the first time when the Congress Party’s score sinks to just two digits, that is, less than one hundred !
The party’s miserable performance in Rae Bareilly, Amethi etc. which have long been regarded as pocket-boroughs of the first family, in the U.P. Assembly polls held recently and its dismal record in the Corporation elections of Uttar Pradesh where as against the BJP’s score of ten out of twelve Corporations, the Congress drew a big blank are clear indices of the party’s collapsing fortunes.
So far as the BJP is concerned, the bungling in Karnataka notwithstanding, all recent public opinion surveys clearly reveal that the principal beneficiary of the Congress Party’s fast eroding reputation continues to be the BJP !
India attained independence in 1947. For the first two decades, the country’s politics was dominated totally by the Congress Party. The Freedom Struggle was waged under the banner of the Congress which was more like an umbrella organization. Naturally both at the Centre, as well as in most of the States it was Congress that was ruling.
As the chart of Election results published here shows, the first time that Congress lost control of the Union Government was in 1977, when the Janata Party defeated the Congress. Shri Morarji Bhai Desai assumed office as Prime Minister, and Shri Vajpayee became his External Affairs Minister.
Post-1977, politics underwent a rapid transformation. In 1980, after the launching of the BJP, this party systematically undertook a two-pronged approach to accomplish this transformation. The first prong was aimed at smashing the hegemony of the Congress Party, and the second prong was targeted at building the BJP not only as a powerful national party but also in states where it already had a stature with great potential.
Smt. Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of terrorists in 1984 and the powerful sympathy wave this tragedy generated in favour of Rajiv Gandhi made that year’s election a unique election for both the ruling party as well as the principal opposition.
Number of Lok Sabha Seats won in Elections:
The Congress Party under Rajiv scored an all time record securing 415 seats and our party also got a record low of TWO SEATS in the whole country! This serious setback however goaded us to pursue the two-pronged strategy we had drawn up with greater vigour and determination than ever before and in just within fifteen years – 1984 to 1999 – we actually transformed the single party dominant polity into a bipolar polity.
The U.P.A. Government of Dr. Manmohan Singh has failed to take along with his government even his allies. The U.P.A. II has had one aide however who may not be a political aide but who has been so invaluable for it to manage these difficult allies that I have often described it as the Congress Party’s most dependable ally. If the Congress has successfully avoided a Lok Sabha poll till now it is only because of this alliance partner – the C.B.I. !
L.K. AdvaniNew Delhi5 August, 2012