Congress in denial mode
The writing is on the wall, although there are not too many in the UPA government in Delhi willing or for that matter, able to read it. After Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Punjab and to some extent even Uttarakhand made it clear that they were not at all enamored of the Congress, Andhra Pradesh has also demonstrated that it is no mood to bring back the party to power in the state.The Andhra by poll results should make the Congress sit up in concern. It has not managed to win a single of the seven seats in the state, with the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti securing four seats, with other three going to a TRS backed rebel, the BJP and what should be even more worrying to the YSR Congress led by Jagan Reddy. The issue of the separate state of Telengana remains potent, with price rise, corruption and non -governance combining to demolish the Congress in its own state.In Delhi, however, the Congress seems to be in denial mode over the verdict of the electorate coming in from different parts of the country. The response has only been to somehow remain in power, using every trick in the book to ‘manage’ the situation. It is a recognized fact that as it loses touch with the people the Nehru-Gandhi led party has come to rely more and more on its management skills, adding two and two to make four as often as possible.In a concerted bid to keep the people of India at bay, the Congress first took the help of the Samajwadi party and its supposedly bitter foe in Uttar Pradesh the Bahujan Samaj Party to make the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre a reality by defeating objections moved by the rest of the Opposition on this issue. It proved in the process once again that it could bed the enemy at the drop of the hat so long as its immediate goals were addressed and fulfilled. In Tamil Nadu it prevailed upon Chief Minister and AAIDMK leader Jayalalitha to withdraw her objections to the Koodankulam nuclear plant that she did in yet another display of rank opportunism. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh breathed a huge sigh of relief, even as the police cracked down on the local leaders of the large scale protests. The unity of the people, however, has not been broken and this is making it difficult for the two governments to have their way.At the moment Trinamool Congress is making sleep a little difficult for the Congress that has found compensation in the arms of the SP and BSP. It is keeping links open with West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee through senior Minister Pranab Mukherjee, hoping that she will come back after Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi was dropped at her instance. One wonders why the Congress leadership even bothered to resist her demand at the first instance, and why they refused to accept what the rest of India knew, that Ms Banerjee would have her way and the Congress would have to eat mud.Clearly a decision has been taken to keep the regional parties well fed and happy so that the Congress can continue taking the support of one or the other to keep itself afloat and tide over ticklish moments in Parliament. Political expediency is the rule of day, with political morals and values and accountability having long since been thrown out of the window. The result is that despite the vote, the people of India have been cheated by the politicians of the day as they rush to make common cause with each other after weeks of a campaign where they swore never to entertain the other again.The danger of ‘management’ replacing ‘governance’ cannot be over stated. The party or coalition elected to power spends time in managing the support so that it can continue in power without governing, and despite anti-people policies. There is no threat to the Congress government in Parliament despite the series of defeats in the state elections, simply because of its ability to keep the elected parties on its side on one issue or the other. Besides, as the politicians are never tired of pointing out, no one is really in the mood for elections and while threatening to pull down the government will stop short of pulling the plug. So the drama in Parliament is for public consumption, little more, and everyone knows that everyone else will stop short of the breaking post.The result is that nothing ever moves beyond a point. The Lokpal Bill remains stuck between parties and between the government and the Anna Hazare lot. The Womens Reservation Bill is clearly destined not to see the light of day. Corruption is discussed, heroic speeches made as many of the more honest MPs register their boredom by snoring in the back benches. Debates on price rise take place in near empty legislatures, with the millionaire MPs and MLAs (from penury to millions) clearly not feeling the pinch. In Parliament there has been some noise about the new Planning Commission figures on poverty, but after this one gesture it will be business as usual. A newspaper carried a CAG report about a huge scam in the coal sector that makes the 2G scam look like chicken feed, but again some talk, a few speeches, perhaps even a slight pause, until the next scam.Parliament no longer seems to be a centre of probity with the elected representatives of the people speaking for the people. Those who would be Prime Minister are rarely seen gracing the Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister and most of his Cabinet have not even bothered to fight an election, and continue to be members of the Rajya Sabha in violation of well established conventions. The result is that the feedback from the ground is negligible, part of it being swallowed up by the non-representative character of the government in power and the other part by the reluctance of the Congress party to see even the beginnings of a frown on the faces of party president Sonia Gandhi and her children. So even if the world is breaking apart, the effort of the Congress members is to convince her and the Family that they are in no danger with the result that the party continues to remain out of synch with the people.But who cares? A defeat at the hustings can be more than made up by going to bed with the enemy. After all is far in the business of governance.