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INC Must Give Shah A Taste Of His Chanakya Neeti

India Desperately Needs An Opposition

The Congress seems to have learnt from the take-no-prisoners approach of the Amit Shah-led BJP, which follows the principle that all is fair in electoral politics. The Rahul Gandhi-led party has offered support to Janata Dal-Secular to form a government headed by HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister and a Dalit face from the Congress as deputy.

The deal has been worked out with Ashok Gehlot and Ghulam Nabi Azad managing operations in Karnataka and Ahmed Patel handling the critical Delhi end.

Patel got former Congress President Sonia Gandhi to reach out to Kumaraswamy’s father HD Deve Gowda and reminded the JD(S) patriarch of his statement that he would “disown his son if he allied with the BJP”.

With the deal sewn up between the Congress and the JD(S), the two parties are all set to meet the governor, the 80-year-old Vajubhai Vala, a “close friend” of PM Narendra Modi’s, who had once vacated his seat for Modi in Gujarat. The Congress, therefore, expects Vala to create obstacles.

It is turning out to be a repeat of 2004, when BJP had emerged as the single largest party but Congress and JD(S) formed a government led by Dharam Singh.

Senior Congress leaders say that they are only following the Goa and Manipur model established by the BJP which snatched away the Congress victory by using enormous resources.

The Congress had a simple majority in both states and yet the BJP under Modi and Shah used all the state resources at their disposal to cobble together governments.

Now Congress leaders are saying, why can’t we also play politics the way BJP does?

A senior Congress leader says: “I am disgusted by the partisanship of the media. When BJP does it, it’s a lesson in Amit Shah’s Chanakya Niti, and, when we do it, it’s stealing the mandate?
What mandate? The BJP has cheapened politics to new levels. The amount they have spent on the Karnataka elections is enormous yet did the media or the Election Commission question them? Only the Congress is supposed to play by the rules? We are a political party, not a charity and we can’t sit twiddling our thumbs.”

The JD(S) and the Congress both have reason to come together. Deve Gowda and his son believe that Shah may deploy enormous resources to buy out JD(S) MLAs.

Kumaraswamy had his heart set on being king and not kingmaker and the Congress and incumbent CM Siddharamiah were happy to go along.

For Congress, its very survival as a national party is at stake. If Karnataka slips out of its grasp, it would then be in power in just two-and-a-half states (Punjab, Puducherry and Mizoram).

Those being holier-than-thou today about the Congress-JD(S) bid were strangely quiet or hailing the master strokes of Modi and Shah as they stole the mandate in Goa and Manipur.

Every political party has the right to form a government if it can hammer together the numbers. The JD(S) is wary of being subsumed by Shah given his brass knuckles approach to politics and huge electoral appetite.

Senior JD(S) leaders see the Congress as a better ally and partner.

And as for the Congress, it is high time it started acting as a political party. If the Congress and JD(S) had allied before the polls, they would have trounced the BJP. Rahul Gandhi as Congress president needs to act as a catalyst of opposition unity or else the entire opposition (vital in a democracy) will perish under the onslaught of an ascendant BJP.

As in Gujarat, Modi and Shah gave up all pretext of “good governance” and “development” in Karnataka and led a campaign by striking deals with the Bellary barons, eight of whom were fighting on BJP tickets ignoring the anti-corruption plank and launching vituperative personal attacks on the Gandhi family. The compromise with the Bellary brothers—the younger is Shah’s choice as deputy CM to a politically enfeebled B S Yediyurappa—got them a windfall of 20 seats.

Modi did not contest Gujarat on his record of governance but on nasty personal jibes.
It’s time for the Congress to recover its political smarts and give the BJP a run for its money.
Otherwise the Modi-Shah duo’s anti-democratic war cry of “Congress Mukt Bharat” will become a reality. India desperately needs an opposition.

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