The Congress was regarded as the grand old party of Indian politics. For five decades after Independence it dominated the political centre-stage of India. Its ouster from power, either from Centre or States, was considered an exception. Its evolution witnessed the Party recede from a conventional political party to a dynastic organisation. It became a crowd around a family. A challenge which dynastic organisations face is that their popular appeal or acceptability is co-existent with the current generation of the dynasty. The fact that the Congress has been reduced to a two digit party and is being ousted from State after State, demonstrates the non-acceptability of its current leadership.
However, the most alarming aspect of the Party has been that from a grand old Party which occupied centre-stage, it is being pushed to the fringe. It is not only electoral arithmetic that it occupies the fringe position but also the position that it adopts on several mainstream issues.
When its current President alongwith certain Left Party leaders visited the Jawahar Lal Nehru University when the slogans of “Tukde Tukde” threatening India’s geographical integrity were raised, I had questioned its leadership in a Parliamentary debate whether its earlier leaders would have ever allowed a Congressmen to identify itself with the national disintegration campaign. But its current leader preferred a fringe position. On use of technology he opposes the EVMs and wants to go back on ballot paper. On digitization he prefers cash over the digital mode of transaction and having the pioneered the original idea of a Unique Identity Number, he has allowed his Party to question it both in Parliament and in the Courts. On economic reforms, the Party takes a position hostile to any reform measure and wants to go back on the retrograde policies. The leader has no qualms of releasing his photographs with a convicted ally whom he had once opposed. The fringe Party having got a miniscule number of votes in Gorakhpur and Phoolpur bye-elections celebrates the victory of Samajwadi Party.
The latest attack on the judiciary
The Congress Party’s impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India was wholly misconceived. It is poorly drafted and lacked in substance. Many of its traditional allies were not willing to take on this confrontation with the judicial institutions. Finding a divided court, the Congress wanted to fish in troubled waters. If the motion for impeachment was unsustainable, the writ petition challenging the order of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, was unarguable. The rejection of a motion by a Speaker or the Chairman is a part of the legislative process.
It was a well-reasoned order. The rulings of the Chair on whether to admit a motion or otherwise, are not subject to judicial review. But wanting to fish in troubled waters, the Congress conceived of a strategy to chose a court of its choice for mentioning for constitution of the bench to hear the matter so that an unarguable matter could be arguable before a more receptive court. The Congress Party was looking for a friendly pitch to bowl on.
The judgment in the unfortunate death of Judge Loya has already exposed the false hallucination of the Congress Party where it concocted the unnatural death theory. It now wanted a continuing sword to hang on the Chief Justice and hence on the Apex Court. Its efforts of a “foreign shopping” having failed, it refused to argue its unarguable case on merits.
Does it behove a national party to deviate from the mainstream and take such fringe position? Fringe organisations have no hope of ever coming to power. They can, therefore, afford to take positions which they will never have to implement. But can a Party having ruled India for such a long tenure, push itself to take fringe position one after the other? This in reality is the price which each Congressman will pay because its leader has decided that fringe position are better than the mainstream one. The Congressmen in Karnataka will be the immediate victims.
(The writer is Union Minister of Finance, GoI)