History & Background
Congress Party is among the oldest and most prominent parties in India, founded in 1985. It has been in power for majority of the period after India gained Independence in 1947 and most people feel that “they know how to rule and run a country”. It has produced great leaders of the likes of M. Gandhi. J.L. Nehru, S. Patel, S.C. Bose, M. Azad etc. However, sadly, the party has become the fiefdom of Nehru-Gandhi family (post independence) and is today the most undemocratic party in world’s largest democracy – India.
Nehru, Indira, Rajiv all of them have been Prime Minister of the country (been in power for 37 years, 56% of the period post Independence). The family has also suffered at the hands of extremists with both Indira and Rajiv killed by terrorists. Post Rajiv’s assassination in 1991 family lost control of the party as Sonia was recuperating from her husband’s death and had two young children to take care of. She was not ostensibly interested in party politics.
After much persuasion from party (which was used to a Nehru-Gandhi scion at the helm of its affairs; exhibiting lack of leadership in a century old party), Sonia became party president in 1998. The party won general elections in 2004 under Sonia and she was tipped to become the PM. Finally she made Manmohan Singh (MMS) the PM (taking a moral high) and herself assumed the role of Chairperson of UPA, creating two power centers in Govt. Essentially having power without any accountability and responsibility. This I feel has been one of the major factors for poor performance of UPA I and II.
Now time has come to pass on the baton to another family member, Sonia chose Rahul over Priyanka, despite the fact that Priyanka is more popular and is considered the natural heir because of her similarities to grandma Indira. However, the ladka won over the ladki (typical Indian mentality) and Rahul is now tipped to be the successor.
MMS also declared that he would be happy to see Rahul step into his shoes. But Rahul is eyeing Sonia’s (UPA Chairman’s) chair. After NaMo’s anointment, Rahul was tipped to be declared officially as PM candidate of Congress. However, Congress shied from doing so because they don’t want an official NaMo vs RaGa fight in Elections 2014. Typical Congress attitude, if they win it will be attributed to “Rahul’s leadership” and if they lose it will be attributed to “kamjor sangathan”.
Rahul is however a smart campaigner and is the defacto PM candidate of the Congress. He is a silent crusader and does work without any fanfare unlike NaMo. He has already built his team, pulled off some people from government (Ajay Maken, CP Joshi) and working full throttle. He is being helped by schemes of govt. like NREGA, Food Security, Direct Cash Transfer of Subsidy etc.
Historical Perofrmance in Lok Sabha (All India)
|% of All India Seats||74.4%||75.9%||73.1%||54.4%||68.0%||28.4%||65.0%||76.2%||36.3%||42.7%||25.8%||26.0%||21.0%||26.7%||37.9%|
Party had no competition till 1977. It used to bag more than 2/3rd of Lok Sabha seats. Emergency imposition by Indira and united opposition lead to her govt.’s downfall in 1977 with Congress recording its lowest tally of 154 seats. The party bounced back in 1980 after split of Janata Parivaar parties. In 1985 elections which took place after Indira’s assasination, party swept the elections under Rajiv’s leadership riding on the sympathy wave to record its highest tally of 400+ seats. V.P. Singh’s exit from Congress (due to differences with Rajiv) weakened the party and it lost heavily in 1989. After Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, party again formed govt. riding on sympathy wave (though wave was much lesser compared to after Indira’s death) and formed a coalition govt. Party’s graph has been on a decline since then, party not exceeding 150 seats in all elections since then, except for 2009 when it bagged 206 seats.
Possibilities in 2014
The Congress led government which is mired in scams – Coal-gate, Arms-gate, Commonwealth, 2G, railway scam (list is never ending) – faces elections in 2014. People are fed up with the government because of high persistent inflation and putting economy in a bad shape. Reforms have been hit and there has been no governance for the past so many years, neither projected for the next 3-4 months.
The party to divert attention from scams and failure of the govt. has passed an ordinance on food security, upped the ante on cash distribution through NREGA, direct cash transfer of subsidy etc. The party feels these schemes will help it sail through the opposition.
Most surveys predict a grim picture for Congress and it could be heading towards its worst performance in history. It’s tally is expected to be below 100. Politicalbaaba estimates 100 seats for UPA (including some allies) in 2014 elections. So in all probability, Congress will sit in opposition with Antony or Shinde as Leader of Opposition. As Rahul won’t like to take this responsibility. Power without responsibility is what this family loves.
If BJP is not in a position to form govt. and there is a grossly fractured mandate then Congress will try to prop a Third Front led govt. and provide outside support. It will act as a glue which will hold this govt. together for whatever days it runs.