Call It the Congress Waiting Game - The New Indian Express

Call It the Congress Waiting Game

Published: 09th March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 09th March 2014 12:53 AM

Elections are upon us again. In less than two and a half months, the votes would have been counted. The UPA could have had the elections earlier but preferred to wait till the term ran out. That was probably because they knew that an early election would hasten their defeat. Everyone you meet says the Congress will fare poorly. There is nothing much that the Congress can advertise about itself. All the talk of Congress initiatives that’d prove to be game changers has left the party a virtual non-player in the elections. In an election where corruption is a larger-than-life issue, Congress has nothing to say for itself. It could not even get a corruption-related ordinance stamped by its own Cabinet. Its efforts to get a Lokpal through have been stymied by desertions from the very people who were to help arrive at the choice and who have indicated that the exercise is a hollow one, not worthy of their participation. There is substantial egg on the Congress poll visage. Between now and the polls, there is not enough time to wipe it all off. It is doubtful if it will be able to wipe any of it off.

The talk is only of how steep the slide will be for the Congress from the 201 seats it held after the previous elections in 2009. Will it cede more than a hundred seats? Will the BJP gain more than a hundred, from the 112 it now holds? Where will it gain from? How will the seats be redistributed?

Opinion polls aside, how much the Congress has painted itself into a corner is evident from its failure to tie-up alliances with erstwhile partners before the Election Commission came up with a schedule. Take the case of Lalu Prasad’s RJD. It is not an alliance opportunity that a Congress positioning itself against corruption would grab with both hands. LJP has already bolted from the stable. Lalu himself cannot contest elections because he stands convicted. His flock appears to have lost faith in his sale-ability and has been found straying to other political pastures. Yet it is with Lalu that the Congress has pledged its troth. When last seen, Rahul Gandhi was seen splitting semantic hairs on prime time television saying the tie-up was with the party not with an individual.

In Tamil Nadu, it has been unable to arrive at a tie-up with the DMK, a party the Congress refused to let go even after the 2G scam hit Manmohan Singh smack on. Congress has been unwilling to say openly that it is not going to get in the same political bed again mostly because the DMK seems to have kicked it out of the bed. Karunanidhi is going around saying that he is not going to forget that the Congress made his favourite daughter spend eight months in Tihar; he isn’t going to forget that A Raja had been maligned too. Don’t be surprised if Congress doesn’t win a single seat in Tamil Nadu.

It may have saved itself from a similar fate in Andhra Pradesh. Now the TRS is saying it is unwilling to enter alliance with the Congress. Manmohan Singh is lucky he doesn’t have to deal with the mess he leaves behind. Rahul Gandhi is lucky he still has five more years to deal with the mess that is the Congress party before he is ready to lead it into elections.

Sudarshan is most recently author of Adrift

sudarshan@newindianexpress.com

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