When we got Independence, the Congress Party was the Freedom Movement and the Freedom Movement was the Congress Party. They seemed destined to rule forever and could have been in power today, but nobody spoils the fortunes of the party like itself.
A look at some of these things…
Congress was invincible till the 1970s, but imposed Emergency and that created the Janata Party which became the first ever non-Congress government at the Centre.
It has been more than 40 years since Emergency. And today it could well be called the most disastrous move it made in retrospect. Till 1975 the Congress strode like a colossus at the Centre. No other party could dream of even being a strong Opposition let alone a ruling dispensation for at the Centre. Then Indira Gandhi gave the rest of the parties a huge lifeline.
Indira imposed the Emergency and this led to her fall and the first non-Congress government at the Centre in 1977. The Janata Party may have disintegrated in 1980, but its successor Janata Dal and all its factions ruled first from 1989-91 and then 1996-98.
But the biggest result of the Emergency is rarely discussed: The formation of the BJP. The RSS was formed in 1925 and was rudderless after Independence for some time. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 but wasn’t that effective till 1977.
The RSS powered the protests that led to the Emergency, the 1977 government gave a solid political direction to the Sangh Parivar and it marched on after 1980 to become the dominant political party in India in 2014 having first tasted power in 1996 at the Centre.
Congress became invincible yet again after the Janata Party imploded, but created the Ramjanmabhoomi problem thereby boosting the BJP.
Under Jawaharlal Nehru, Ram idols appeared in the mosque premises. Under Rajiv Gandhi, the locks to the complex were removed to counter the Shah Bano case appeasement. Under PV Narasimha Rao the Sangh Parivar managed to knock down the domes right under the Centre’s eyes.
The Ramjanmabhoomi problem was created and sustained by the Congress and maximum progress happened only due to the action/inaction of various Congress Prime Ministers. But only one entity benefited politically from all of the above: The Sangh Parivar.
When the Naxalite movement came up in West Bengal, the ruling Congress government used such brute force, that they lost the State forever. Today it is out of power in the State for a whopping 40 years and look in no position of forming a government in the future.
Congress made a comeback in Punjab in 1980 but single-handedly created the Punjab problem.
Why Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay wanted to deal with a person like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale we will never know. But they kept backing him and making him more and more powerful till he turned against them. The Centre launched a military operation against the Golden Temple more than once. The Khalistan problem became a raging one. Finally Indira herself was assassinated, leaving an inexperienced Rajiv, who squandered a majority Congress rule at the Centre for good.
Congress became pally with the LTTE and they assassinated Rajiv.
Bhindranwale wasn’t the only such person that the Congress dealt with. Another was LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran. The story is that during an Indo-Sri Lanka meet when the Lankan authorities heard that India was hosting Prabhakaran, they were livid.
There were reports of India giving financial aid to the LTTE and aid was dropped in their territories against the will of the Lankan government. The Indian government soon turned against Prabhakaran and he took his revenge by assassinating Rajiv.
Congress backed Bal Thackeray to counter Communists and he ended Congress majority rule for good in Maharashtra in 1995.
When Shiv Sena’s Bal Thackeray emerged in the 1960s instead of countering him, the Congress secretly backed him in a bid to counter the Communists. In fact it was in the 1980s that Thackeray and Congressman Sharad Pawar joined hands to finish off the unions.
Thackeray had the last laugh though. A Shiv Sena Chief Minister was sworn in in 1995 and after that the Congress has not had a single majority government in Maharashtra, a State which it had really dominated till that year right from Independence. Subsequently we had the first BJP Chief Minister in 2014.
Congress still had the largest political network in 2014, but totally decimated it for 2019.
The Congress always returned after being booted out at the Centre. 1980. 1991. 2004. These are three such momentous years. However 2014 seems to be a year with a difference. What many people don’t realize that though the Congress lost in 2014, it still had the most MLAs across the country and the largest organizational network and that with the greatest money and muscle power.
Instead of consolidating that and making a comeback, the party backed the disastrous mother-son Sonia-Pappu duo to the hilt, started decimating leaders at the regional level and attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi 24X7 instead of coming out with a coherent effective strategy to regain their paramount national status.
Congress was given a last chance in December 2018, but…
Despite everything, the Congress got a get out of jail free card in 2018. It was Modi’s Annus Horribilis. First despite being the single largest party in Karnataka, the BJP totally messed up the trust vote and ceded ground to a JDS-Congress government. Then the NDA government in Jammu & Kashmir fell. Finally at the end of the year, BJP won 0/5 State elections while the ailing Congress got a real shot in the arm and formed governments in the key states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Congress supporters and Modi haters finally smelt blood at the end of 2018.
But what did the Congress do? They should have given excellent governance in MP-Rajasthan-Chhattisgarh and shown the rest of India that it too was a viable alternative. But nothing of the sort happened. Governance crashed and law and order crashed. Karnataka was even worse.
Then Pappu launched a highly negative campaign with the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” nonsense and motor mouths like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sam Pitroda went mentally ballistic. The Congress showed that it had nothing new to offer in the matter of governance and for Modi it had nothing but abuse.
This was a strange policy because Modi was attacked virulently in 2002, 2007 and 2013-14 with disastrous results. The mantra seemed to be: We have nothing to offer to the people of India, but we will continue to abuse the Prime Minister non-stop. So as expected, the 2019 general elections proved to be a landslide for the BJP and a disaster for the Congress.