The Congress under the leadership of Mrs.
Gandhi imposed Emergency in June 1975, when as alleged by her, there were disruptionist tendencies in the country. The Emergency turned out to be the cloak for the establishment of an authoritarian regime. It goes to the credit of Mrs. Gandhi that she was honest in her endeavour to bring democracy back on wheels, when she announced elections in January 1977.
The Congress was completely routed in the northern states mainly on account of the excesses committed and the role played by the “caucus” during the period when emergency was in force. There was another split in the Congress in 1977 when Mrs. Gandhi formed her own Congress Party called the Congress (1) and the stalwarts of the Congress Party like B.N. Reddy, Y.B.
Chavan and others were left to take care of the original Congress Party. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was, unfortunately, assassinated in Oct. 84, and it was feared that it would be the end of Congress (I). Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, however, infused new spirit and vigour into the Party, after Congress turned out as a majority party in Eighth Lok Sabha Elections. The massive mandate notwithstanding, Cong (I) lost grip over the country.
The state units had been totally demoralised on account of concentration of power in the centre and frequent interventions by it. The old guard had been sidelined, and the new one lacked moral authority. As a result of their ham-handed ruling of the country, the Congress (I) lost power in the Ninth Lok Sabha elections held in 1989. Congress (I) lent support to the ministry formed by Mr. Chandra Shekhar at the Centre in November 1990. A few voices within the Congress (I) advocated that the party must share power with the Janata Dal (S). It was indeed a travesty of justice and negation of democracy that the country was run by only 54 MPs belonging to a party with no popular mandate and support. The death of Shri Rajiv Gandhi in a bomb blast on May 21, 1991, posed a new danger to the Congress (I).
In the tenth Lok Sabha elections, the Cong (I) put up good performance in the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, M.P., Tamil Nadu, and A.P. It was, however, routed in U.P.
and Bihar where the BJP and Janata Dal captured majority of the seats. The assassination of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and the consequent sympathy wave won a number of seats for the Cong (I) in Rajasthan, A.P, T.N. and Maharashtra.
The Cong (I) also captured the states of Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry, where State Assembly elections were held. Mr. Narasimha Rao was elected to succeed the late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, and he was sworn in as Prime Minister in June 1991.
The Indian National Congress was on crossroads after the conclusion of the 11th Lok Sabha elections in May 1996. It could capture only 143 seats in the Parliament. It, however, had the satisfaction of capturing 4 Lok Sabha seats in J & K. The former Prime Minister, Mr. Narasimha Rao, was primarily blamed for the decline of Congress (I). First, some of the influential leaders including P.
Chidambaram, Madhav Rao Scindia, Arjun Singh, N.D. Tiwari and Kalpanath Rai were unceremoniously compelled to leave the Congress on one pretext or the other. The Congress and its allies (UPA) inflicted a shocking defeat on the NDA for 14th Lok Sabha elections (May 04). Sonia Gandhi, however, declined the offer of premiership in deference to her “Call for Conscience”. Dr. Manmohan Singh was ‘nominated’ as the PM by her.
She turned out to be the most popular mass leader in the country and her rallies are well attended. In 2004, Congress govts, had been established in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Arunachal Pradesh. The BJP lay in ruins and its loss was clearly the gain of the Congress.
The Congress continues to be in the grip of a dynastic rule. President of the Party Sonia Gandhi, Italian born widow of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, and her son, Rahul Gandhi, control an important wing of the Youth Congress and the daughter Priyanka Vadra also asserts her authority and flaunts the Gandhi name. The discarded and shamed politicians are being re-inducted into the party and given important positions of authority. Sonia remains the sole arbiter of all important decisions pertaining to the party reshuffling; appointment of Chief Ministers etc. is her prerogative.
The Marxists dictate their own terms and were primarily instrumental in churning process of important institutions; they wanted the saffron brigade to be shown the door and replaced by people with Leftist leanings. The India-US nuclear deal at one stage wrecked the govt, at the Centre, the Congress and the CPI (M) refusing to deviate from their respective stands. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was forced to retort that if elections are forced on the country, “so be it”.
The events in Singur. Nandigram and the murder of a Muslim youth Rizwan has put the Marxists on the defensive. They were fast losing their base amongst the Muslims who are the biggest minority in West Bengal thanks to the CPI (M) policy of ignoring massive influx from Bangladesh-Truce appears on the horizon, the Marxists have toned down their rhetoric. The 123 agreement is now a reality. The 125-year old national party is now firmly controlled by its foreign-born president.
She has a full grip over the situation and nothing happens without her nod. The victory of the Congress during the 15th General Elections could be ascribed first to the absence of a credible opposition capable of handling the situation and secondly, the idol worship and sycophancy which is a basic characteristic of gullible Indians. It is indeed surprising that how could a lady who does not have her ears to the ground, oblivious of our traditional culture and moorings, has managed to emerge triumphant. None in the Congress is even half as tall as Sonia Gandhi. They are all at her beck and call and willing to accept her leadership and supremacy. The death of the popular Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.
S. Rajasekhara Reddy in Sept. 09 clearly demonstrated that in Congress, the High Command is all powerful and its dictate is not to be challenged. Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late Chief Minister, was projected by the loyalists of the YSR as their candidate for chief minister ship. A very ticklish situation since Jagan Reddy controls a vast industrial and financial empire and his projection and his anointment to Chief Minister Seat could create a number of problems. The Congress High Command did make an earnest effort to defuse the Andhra situation amicably.
Congress is caught in a difficult situation in Andhra Pradesh. The Telenganga issue is falling complicated. Earlier K Chandrasekhar Rao in Dec. 2009 had undertaken fast unto death for the new state. The Congress hurriedly conceded the demand. Now the opponents of the new state swung into action; MLA’s belonging to A.P.
from Congress threatened resignation for the Assembly. Situation in early Jan. 2010 is tense and serious. During the 15th Lok Sabha elections, for the first time, the Congress received a big boost when it emerged triumphant in the urban areas. City after city fell in the Congress (I) pocket and the electorate jettisoned the BJP which hitherto had been called party of the urban areas. Dr. Manmohan Singh was appointed Prime Minister for the second time and he directed his ministerial colleagues to show results in the first 100 days.
The good natured and pliant doctor is Prime Minister only in name. In a coalition arrangement he cannot ask for any Cabinet Minister’s explanation without a major provocation. In his earlier avatar as P.M., he had to tolerate many of the ministers including the Home Minister, Shiv Raj Patil , who was a total cypher and a failure. In the present cabinet, Mamta is a law to herself and her actions cannot be questioned.
The Congress juggernaut is unstoppable not because of its popularity or efficiency but mainly on account of the absence of an alternate political set-up. The Jaswant Singh episode has left the BJP shattered and the opprobrium inflicted on the old war horse L.K.Advani has decimated the party. The other minor player like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Karunanidhi, Buddadev Bhattaracharya, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan have been exposed and stand negated.