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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had great electoral years in 2002 (Gujarat), 2007 (Gujarat), 2012 (Gujarat), 2013 (State elections), 2014 (Lok Sabha and State elections) and 2017. In fact 2017 was one of the best years when BJP won a whopping six States, a feat not seen in Indian politics for decades.
In 2009, Congress got more Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. In 2015, Modi lost key ego battles with Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav (Bihar) and Arvind Kejriwal (New Delhi). But by the end of 2017, a second Modi term seemed a foregone conclusion.
However Modi probably got his worst year ever in 2018, his 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 that is distant memory now and 2019 is firmly The Year of Modi (so far). Here’s why…
1. Spectacular surgical strikes.
While the 2016 surgical strike in Uri was great, the 2019 one was simply spectacular. For the first time in history, an Air Force conducted air strikes on a nuclear power. Jaish-e-Mohammed was decimated in Balakot (Pakistan proper), while Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terror camps were hit in Muzaffarabad and Chakothi (PoK).
Then Wing Commander Abhinandan shot down an F-16, the first MiG-21 to do so in history. Abhinandan became a POW, but was released in quick time. India looked decisive and Pakistan was caught firmly on the back foot.
2. Great annual budget. GST-DeMo shocks absorbed. GDP growth up.
Usually when a budget is presented, there are many pros and cons in the media and sometimes consensus is elusive whether it is god or bad. But Budget 2019 was an unqualified success and critically acclaimed by all.
It had something for everyone: The farmers, the middle class, the industry… While many ruling governments don’t go in for a full-fledged budget in election year, Modi presented a bold one which pleased all and helped his 2019 electoral cause.
Then, remember the total disruption that GST and demonetization caused? Well they are distant memories now and the economy has totally absorbed those shocks. Among large economies, India now has the highest GDP growth rate in the world. The good budget complemented this.
This was another unexpected sixer out of the park. Nobody saw it coming. Nobody could really criticize it. While most such moves are based solely on caste and religious lines, this one was solely targeted for the poor.
4. The NDAgatbandhan.
Everyone was talking of the Mahagatbandhan, but the NDAgatbandhan has taken over. The BJP has strong allies in the form of JDU-LJP (Bihar), Shiv Sena (Maharashtra), ADMK+ (Tamil Nadu) and SAD (Punjab). Then there’s their surprise North-East Democratic Alliance which has a dozen odd members. Even if the BJP gets 250, it will be a stable 5-year government and more allies will be looking to jumping on the NDA ship.
5. Looks like Bollywood is totally with him!
The film industry is severely Left-leaning. That way you could say that 99% of Hollywood is against US President Donald Trump. When Modi finally made his intentions to run for Prime Minister in 2012 crystal clear, Bollywood was by and large against him. But not anymore!
In 2019 it seems that Bollywood is almost campaigning for Modi. At the beginning of the year Uri: The Surgical Strike became 2019’s biggest hit. It reminded people of the 2016 strike and even as it was playing in the theatres more happened.
On the same day the nationalistic Battalion 609 was released along with The Accidental Prime Minister, which showed Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in bad light. This was followed by movies like 72 Hours: Martyr Who Never Died, Thackeray and Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.
Then we had Mere Pyare Prime Minister, based on the Swachh Bharat Mission, the patriotic and jingoistic Kesari and the controversial Ram Ki Janmbhoomi. Romeo Akber Walter also brought back the India-Pak focus.
Finally we had The Tashkent Files, which showed Indira Gandhi in really bad light. The release of PM Narendra Modi got delayed but now Modi can claim the EC is neutral. That movie will be released after polling and may be a superhit if it forms part of the victory celebrations.
6. Solid development and governance credentials.
Modi is campaigning in 2019 with great confidence. That’s because he has solid development and governance credentials. He has pulled up the bureaucracy and ministries. India has seen a record number of toilets, power connections, LPG cylinders, roads and bank accounts. Modi has become a foreign policy superstar and he received a further boost during electioneering when he got Russia’s highest award.
Pappu keeps hammering on Rafale a million times and nobody cares. Rural India still doesn’t what the hell it’s all about and urban India laughs at him. Even the courts dismissed it in December last year. Just for a review petition to be accepted made Pappu declare that “Chowkidar is chor” for which he had to eat crow in front of the Supreme Court. This is key, because Pappu thought this was the ace in the hole.
8. Main bhi chowkidar/media interview blitz.
Continuing with Rafale, in 2014, Modi turned the chaiwallah jibe into a brilliant #ChaiPeCharcha campaign. This time when Pappu thought that his “Chowkidar Chor hain” won the day, Modi again turned it around with the widespread and immensely popular “Main bhi Chowkidar” campaign.
If #AbkiBaarModiSarkaar ruled 2014, then its #AayegaToModiHi in 2019. While during the December 2018 elections it seemed that the BJP was totally losing it on social media, Modi got his mojo back by the time of the general elections.
All the channels can’t get enough of Modi. They keep showing his speeches, rallies, road shows and programmes like the one at the Varanasi Ghat. He also went on to do many media interviews and the biggest hit of the year was probably the one with Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar.
9. Opposition unity totally in tatters.
There is no real UPA and there is no Third Front. Everyone wants to be Prime Minister. Congress has no tie-ups in UP while their ones in Maharashtra and Karnataka seem to be ineffective. They had a win with the DMK in Tamil Nadu; however BJP is already sitting at nearly nothing there and moreover tied up with the ADMK. Chandrababu Naidu also broke it off with Congress realizing it was going nowhere.
Everyone is celebrating the SP-BSP tie-up in UP without mentioning that they got 5 + 0 seats last time as against NDA’s 75. Also the Yadav and Dalit vote banks are not additive, but at loggerheads with each other.
The main problem is that everybody hates Pappu and everybody wants to be PM. Sharad Pawar, Mayawati and Mrs Vadra are not even contesting the elections. HD Deve Gowda may lose as may Pappu in Amethi. There’s a chance that both Naidu and Naveen Patnaik may lose their CMship. It’s been ages since the opposition has been so weak.
10. UAE award and temple inauguration during voting.
Modi haters have tried to spread the “Muslims under siege” narrative multiple times and failed. One thing that has blunted this is his excellent relationship with Muslim heads of state and perhaps he has surpassed all his predecessors in that regard.
Before this new year started, he had got the highest award of three countries: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Palestine—all Muslim countries. Then in 2019, during electioneering, he was conferred with the highest award of the UAE. That Muslim country also inaugurated a temple there.
Pro-incumbency is the norm at the Centre. Nehru won all the elections in his life. His daughter Indira also won all the elections save one where she had imposed the dreaded dictatorial Emergency. The Janata Party and Janata Dal disintegrated and only a slew of scandals sunk Rajiv in 1989. Vajpayee in 2004 was not expected to complete his term had he been elected and he was scandal-ridden and overshadowed by LK Advani. Manmohan got re-elected in 2009 even though he was mediocre in UPA1.
That means a youngish Prime Minister who even gives a mediocre performance without any major scandal has a near cent per cent chance of winning re-election. Modi is in his prime and young enough to complete two more terms so it is unlikely that India will vote against him in 2019.
Congress dynasts do nothing and are given power after which they rule like dictators. BJP leaders work their way up the ladder and when they reach the top, they are attacked 24X7 by the mainstream media, liberals and so called intellectuals. If that’s not enough, then the Congress dynasts are called secular democrats while the BJP leaders are called fascist dictators.
The latest in this long line of dual identity switching is Congress leader Sonia and Gandhi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A look at the reasons why Sonia, not Modi, has been ruling her fiefdom like a dictator…
1. Congress President for a whopping 20 years.
If you look at the list of Congress Presidents then it’s an illustrious list full of stalwarts who ruled by rotation. Very rarely did anyone rule at a stretch and a double figure reign was unthinkable. Well Sonia was President for an amazing 20 years, from 1998-2017.
So does that mean she was the best President ever who got elected by a thumping majority? Not really. Her tenure started with the then President Sitaram Kesri being locked in the toilet so he couldn’t oppose Sonia. Then in 1999, Sonia crashed the Congress to 114/543 Lok Sabha seats, the worst ever.
After that from 2004-14, she fired from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s shoulder and gave the worst and most corrupt government in Independent history and broke her own Lok Sabha record Congress for a paltry 44 seats. Yet nobody challenged her and she passed her title to her zero achievement son Pappu.
True democratic leaders become stronger with every success (like Modi) while dictators become even more powerful with every successive failure.
2. Remember the social media crackdown and the dreaded Section 66A?
Remember the dreaded Section 66A of the Indian IT Act where you could be arrested even if you annoyed a politician. That led to great mayhem in the run up to the 2014 general elections. Many were arrested while a good number of Congress critics got threatening notices.
Interestingly even in the run up to the 2019 elections it is Modi and BJP supporters who are finding their social media accounts suspended and deleted proving that Modi is not the dictator. However Sonia’s party continues to crack down even after being out of power.
It runs in the family actually. Jawaharlal Nehru brought in the First Amendment which severely curbed freedom of speech. Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency. Sanjay’s goons would beat up anyone who disagreed with him. Rajiv tried to impose the anti-defamation bill which would jail journalists. What’s new?
Forget doing anything against her, she can’t even be discussed. Her IT returns, travel plans and mystery illnesses do not come under Right To Information. You can’t know anything about her. You can’t ask anything about her. She’s royalty and you have to bow down your head when it comes to her. She is powerful that we don’t even have the right to any kind of information that she deems unfit.
Nehru faced some dissent in his time. Rajiv was totally disgraced by the end of his term in 1989. However from 2004-19 the entire mainstream media has shown that it is petrified of her. You can’t do articles critical of her and have to withdraw completely if “Sonia is unhappy”.
Every editor wants to be in her good books. Every media house quakes in its boots at the thought of her. Does this sound like a democracy or a dictatorship?
5. Zero dissent and debate with fleet of sycophantic leaders.
A whole galaxy of leaders opposed Nehru, Indira and Rajiv under their reign. However after the deaths of Madhavrao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot and Jitendra Prasad, Sonia ruled the party like a dictator from 2001-17. Nobody could challenge her. Nobody could stand up to her. Nobody could question her decisions. Quite strange in an allegedly flourishing democracy like India!
2004-14: Sonia was the most powerful person during UPA. UPA was also the most corrupt and worst governed regime. Yet Sonia is 0% responsible for all the problems of the UPA? How does that work? Why did the Prime Minister of the land behave like a servant and treat Sonia like his master. Why is MMS still petrified of her? Fascist dictator anyone?
7. Goebbelsian team surpassed previous spokespersons.
The spokespersons of the Congress party give two hoots to truth, logic and decency. They even give two hoots to the Congress party. Their only aim is to please the Queen and her son. That’s it. Every failure has to be twisted in such a way that the party and its leaders can be rubbished, but not the supreme dictator.
8. National Advisory Council and its constitutionality.
If Sonia during UPA was a super PM, then the NAC was a super cabinet. This was an extra-Constitutional body created just for Sonia. Just to give her legitimacy. Just to give her power. Just to give her an excuse to impose her will on the government. A powerful body created by one woman, just for one woman. It was thankfully scrapped by Modi in 2014.
9. What about all those crimes?
Modi was accused of dozens of crimes and there was never even a chargesheet. However Sonia is actually an accused in the National Herald scam. Her name also cropped up in an Italian court in the Agusta Westland scam. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has even linked her name to the 2G scam, exodus of antiquities, the KGB etc. But nobody may even look into it, speak of it and even deny it, for that will acknowledge its very existence. She who must not be named. Her scams must not be named.
10. Cult of Sonia alive even today.
Even in 2019, a powerless Sonia is still not investigated, attacked or even criticized. Media houses stay clear of her, politicians do not want to take her on and investigative agencies would rather look the other way when her name crops up. She may yet be India’s greatest dictator wince the days of the British Raj.
India was unlucky in its senior leadership right from the beginning. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel died in 1950. Even economic experts like our first Governor General C Rajagopalachari, who predicted the ills of the License Raj, and BR Ambedkar, the Father of the Reserve Bank and Financial Commission, were both sidelined as India’s 1991 economic collapse was inevitable.
However here’s looking at Prime Ministers and would be Prime Ministers who left early or mysteriously…
Chased away by Gandhi he left India to take on the British with the help of the Japanese. It was the 1945 INA trials and subsequent Bombay Mutiny that led to India getting Independence. He would probably have been India’s first Prime Minister had he been around in 1947.
Endgame: Disappeared mysteriously and probably died in oblivion sometime after 1945.
2. Syama Prasad Mukherjee: Founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) which later became BJP.
One of the biggest opponents of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he was proving to be a strong opposition to the Congress and may even have replaced him ultimately.
Endgame: He virulently opposed a special status to J&K (much like Ambedkar) and died in a Kashmir jail after being administered penicillin, even though it was well known that he was allergic to it. Prime Minister (1998-2004) AB Vajpayee called it a “Nehru conspiracy” in 1950.
3. Feroze Gandhi: MP and son-in-law of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Seen as Prime Ministerial material by many, he was famous for raising the LIC scandal in Parliament, which severely embarrassed his father-in-law.
Endgame: Died early at the age of 47 in 1960 in virtual oblivion.
4. Lal Bahadur Shastri: Second Prime Minister.
Mr Clean. Mr Honest. Jai Jawan (gave decisive leadership during the 1965 war). Jai Kisan (moved India away from Nehru’s strong urban-centric policies). He also laid the foundations of the Green and White Revolutions of India. It is quite difficult to believe that he achieved so much because he was Prime Minister for less than two years.
Endgame: Died mysteriously in Tashkent in 1966.
5. Deendayal Upadhyaya: President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
Famous for his Integral Humanism doctrine, his dynamism inspired generations of RSS and BJS-BJP workers and leaders.
Endgame: Months after becoming BJS President, he was found isolated and murdered in a railway station in 1968.
6. Sanjay Gandhi: Virtual dictator of India during Emergency and Indira’s son and heir apparent.
One of the most controversial Indian leaders ever, he was the face of India’s 1975-77 Emergency and just 29 when it began. The Indira-Sanjay duo tortured thousands, jailed lakhs and sterilized millions by force. Sanjay became the face of sterilizations and slum clearances. His rise from a nobody to becoming Numero Uno in India was swift and spectacular.
Endgame: Died in 1980 in a plane crash.
Probably India’s most controversial Prime Minister, she cemented the dynasty, decimated the opposition even as a record number of senior leaders left her party under her rule.
Endgame: Assassinated by her bodyguards over the Punjab problem in 1984.
8. Rajiv Gandhi: Sixth Prime Minister.
He became infamous for the Sikh genocide and Bhopal gas disaster even before the general elections of 1984. He lost in 1989 being totally disgraced, especially due to the Bofors scam.
Endgame: Assassinated by the LTTE in 1991.
9. Rajesh Pilot: Central Minister.
A smart upcoming and dynamic leader, he would have been a candidate for Prime Minister in 2004.
Endgame: Died in a car accident in 2000.
10. Madhavrao Scindia: Central Minister.
Active in politics from the 1970s to 1990s, he wore many hats. Like Pilot, he too would have been a candidate for Prime Minister in 2004.
Endgame: Died in a plane crash in 2001.
11. Pramod Mahajan: Central Minister.
Was crowned the successor to the BJP’s Vajpayee-Advani regime and would have been the BJP’s candidate for premiership in the 2009 elections.
Endgame: Killed in 2007.
Disgraced in the 1970s, celebrated in the 1990s…
1974: Gujarat’s Navnirman Andolan led to Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution which led to a nationwide agitation which led to Emergency which led to the first non-Congress government at the Centre. One of the casualties of this chain of events was the disgracing of Congress Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel who had to quit. Women came in the streets swearing that they would not name their children after Chimanbhai as donkeys were paraded elsewhere with his name painted on them.
1990: Chimanbhai becomes CM again and that too with support of BJP, which was part of the above-mentioned first non-Congress government.
Even a brutal dictator is eventually loved…
1975-77: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declares dictatorship in India (Emergency), terrorizes the nation, totally clamps down on freedom of speech and expression, turns all opposition parties into dummies, tortures thousands, imprisons lakhs and conducts millions (yes, millions) of forced sterilizations, some which go wrong and some which are conducted on young men without children.
1980: Indira storms back with a whopping 374 seats, bungles Punjab and attacks the revered Golden Temple, sees the Nellie Massacre on her watch, which may have seen 10,000 killed in a single day, still becomes a much worshipped and loved figure right up to today.
The most incompetent start ever and yet…
1984 October end to December beginning: In just his first 5 weeks on the job, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi saw the anti-Sikh riots in which crores of property was burnt, thousands were killed and lakhs terrorized and then the Bhopal Gas Tragedy seeing thousands killed and lakhs injured and offending Chairman and CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, was allowed to go scot free.
1984 December end: Rajiv wins a whopping 400+ seats in the general elections, a record in Indian democracy. In the above mentioned riots leaders accused of leading mobs are given plum posts instead of being investigated against.
2018: One of the above mentioned accused becomes the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh replacing someone who is popular and has solid development credentials.
Bringing you peace and yet…
2018: The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister against all odds almost eradicates Naxalite violence and brings a solid development agenda to the state. In reply the electorate give his rival party replacement (nobody even knows who that will be at the time of voting) a landslide.
How it all began…
1947: The downright bungling by the duo of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru led to the killing of a million during Partition and the displacement of millions. Everyone knew that the riots were coming but Gandhi-Nehru didn’t have the wisdom-guts-whatever to postpone the Partition, secure the border or hold the British Army accountable to mitigate the tragedy. The whole world had seen World War 2 and global opinion and help could have been had to prevent another tragedy. Gandhi was after all a global superstar!
2018: Nehru won every election in his life even though he did hardly much for India and well into 2018 both are worshiped and the above thing is not even debated upon, let alone condemned!