The Congress party is becoming increasingly confrontational and one wonders who it will take on next.
Spokespersons keep rubbishing the BJP every now and then while Rahul Gandhi has aggressively taken on Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. Leaders like Digvijay Singh seem to be in a perpetual war with everyone.
That much is understandable.
Every ruling party in the world wants to take on the Opposition and vice versa.
What is not understandable is how it seems to be in conflict with everyone else too.
A look at its many confrontations…
Allies or foes?: UPA1 was almost brought down, not by the Opposition or other destabilising forces, but from its No. 1 ally: The Left. Parties like the CPM were furious over the nuclear deal with America and parted ways with the Congress. Though the government survived, the cash-for-votes scandal is still around.
In UPA2, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has been belligerent over things like petrol prices and the Lokpal. The trouble has spilled over to the state-level alliance in West Bengal.
The DMK has its own set of issues but is largely quiet as it is out of power in Tamil Nadu.
Civil Society Wars: This has received maximum media coverage thanks to the spat with Anna Hazare. It is ironic that the government which became the first to engage with civil society in a big way should end up picking a fight with it.
National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy is also openly criticizing the government nowadays.
Federalism under attack: The States are fuming with the bills that are being introduced by the Centre and this goes for Congress-ruled states too. The Communal Bill was seen as an attack on the very federal structure of the country.
The Food Bill is unpopular with many chief ministers. One of the biggest reasons for the Lokpal Bill not being passed was its perceived encroachment on the powers of the States.
The virtual fight: Fighting the Internet seems a bit Quixotic, but the Government is doing it all the same. China can do Internet censorship because they are an authoritarian state and face no obstacles. More importantly they back it all in the offline world too.
India can’t do the same. Instead of backing off against the backlash it has received, the government is going ahead with its attempts to muzzle the Internet.
It had earlier shared a good relationship with traditional media, but even that is falling apart as the UPA is trying more and more methods to keep it in check.
Army Chief: This is one battle that the government won (over the date of birth issue), but it has still left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. An Army Chief dragging the government to court itself is unprecedented. Even though the UPA got away, the SC did point out how the whole procedure had been vitiated.
To give the Army chief some credit, a common man would be wondering why any government would back a date of birth in a handwritten form over a solid matriculation certificate.
As to the argument of why he accepted it in the first place, isn’t a soldier who first accepts an order and then protests it better than one who refuses it outright in the first place, something that could be labelled treason?
Finally, the Army chief, like any other citizen of the land has the right to approach the SC. Even Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has approached the apex court as he feels that the Governor is thrusting a Lokayukta upon him at the behest of the Centre.
Khurshid vs EC: Law Minister Salman Khurshid taking on the Election Commission is even more baffling. The EC censured Khurshid over his Muslim sub-quota statements at an UP election rally. The Law Minister could have kept quiet and left it at that as the EC was empowered to do nothing more.
But instead, he went on the offensive and said he would continue speaking even if he was hanged. That seems quite a childish statement from a Law Minister and the EC did the unprecedented step of petitioning the President of India.
And the others: The biggest confrontation with the bureaucracy was that with the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office over the Rs 1.76 lakh crore figure in the 2G scam.
While reports of internal bickering in the Cabinet keep coming up, leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Digvijay sometimes seem to be taking on their own party men.
The Central government has also been pulled up regularly by the courts over many issues, but that is hardly an institution which it can fight outright and has generally been on the backfoot.
The unprecedented action of the SC cancelling 122 telecom licenses was a big slap on the Congress. But instead of accepting the verdict in grace, it came out all guns blazing, blaming the NDA regime for the 2G scam. Bizarre!
The worrying part is as we reach the fag end of the current Lok Sabha term, far from backing down, the Congress seems to be getting more and more confrontational in nature.
2G verdict: Is there any 'clean' minister left in the UPA?
Open Letter to Anna Hazare…
How America and India hate Internet democracy