The BJP is technically the No. 1 Opposition to the ruling Congress party. However in reality that has not been the case. The Grand Old Party of India has been getting more intense opposition many other quarters. These have been a bigger challenge than the BJP.
A look at the oppositions the Congress party has faced and is facing at the Centre since 2004…
The Left Front: For its first term in 2004-09, there was no bigger opposition than the Left. When the Congress first came to power, few expected it to last the full term. But at every step on the way, the Left was a hurdle. It kept the Congress in check and there never was any chance of big-ticket reforms.
Finally, the government faced the music when the Left pulled the carpet over the Nuclear Deal. While the government survived, they ended up with the cash-for-votes scandal.
Anna Hazare: This was the biggest thing to hit the ruling government in 2011 and almost brought it to a standstill. During August Kranti, it was just Anna versus the Congress in particular and all politicians in general.
The Congress was running scared. While in private it lambasted Hazare, in public it went out of its way to appease him. Hazare was compared to Mahatma Gandhi, which made Congress leaders squirm and also with Jayaprakash Narayan, the man who forced Indira Gandhi to impose Emergency in 1975.
TV Channels: While most TV channels are by and large pro-establishment, the sheer volume of scams that are coming out of the closet means that at any given point in time the Congress is under attack from at least one channel.
While Indian TV news channels have come in for some criticism, you got to give it to them: No matter what happens they don’t let go of a big issue and keep showing it again and again.
They were the biggest allies of Anna in his campaign against the Congress last year.
Social Media: This one is seen as a dangerous threat as it is perceived to be totally unregulated and unchecked. There are millions of Facebook and Twitter accounts with many statuses that are anti-Congress. How do you stop them? The answer is that you simply can’t.
But that doesn’t mean that the government won’t try. IT Minister Kapil Sibal went out of his way to censor the Internet without much luck. While the government will definitely succeed in shutting down a few blogs, websites and social networking accounts, how can it police the millions of blogs, statuses, morphed pictures, cartoons and the likes floating in cyberspace?
It’s like trying to build a dam with a few bricks.
Trinamool: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is currently the No. 1 Opposition to the Congress. She is keeping it on its toes and many decisions have been shelved because of her, including the issue of FDI. She has also opposed hikes in petrol and LPG prices.
During the Lokpal issue, the Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha thanks to Mamata’s lack of support. The government could not push the Teesta River water accord with Bangladesh because Mamata was not on board.
Others: The CAG’s office came out with the Rs 1.76 lakh crore figure in the 2G scam. CAG reports have been hitting the ruling government on many other issues like civil aviation.
The courts also have been regularly pulling up the Centre and even the PM’s office has not been spared. The Supreme Court rapped them on the knuckles over the whole 2G policy fiasco.
There is also the issue of Congress Spokespersons. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Digvijay Singh keeps making one bizarre remark after the other and no-one takes him seriously any more.
During the Anna Hazare fiasco, the spokespersons went totally out of hand and the circumstances boomeranged for the ruling government.
Then there’s Mani Shankar Aiyar, who keeps taking pot shots at his own partymen like Sports Minister Ajay Maken’s education. He was a big critic of the Commonwealth Games even as the Congress was desperately trying to firefight the Suresh Kalmadi scam fallout.
It’s ironic that the Central government with the weakest political Opposition is facing the strongest opposition from all other quarters.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/