The Congress is a curious party. When things are not going their way, then they manage to come out with some pretty good governance. When they are in total control, they squander it all with arrogance and bad governance.
When Indira Gandhi took over in 1966, things started to go wrong everywhere. The Congress seat share in the Lok Sabha came down and it also lost power in 7 States for the first time. The Congress elders took Indira head on and there was a split in the party.
Not only did Indira consolidate power and triumph, but she also managed to revive the economy during her early years. That was admirable as she had inherited power when the 1965 war had affected the economy and there was also a drought.
Our next 5-year plan led to a Green Revolution and we made great strides in food security. Indira stressed on social reform and she seemed invincible when she won the 1971 elections and followed it up with the Bangladesh war that split our arch enemy into two.
But that’s when things started to go wrong. Indira got arrogant, the economy faltered and she started taking one wrong step after another. All that led to the infamous Emergency of 1975 and she was booted out of power in 1977.
When Rajiv Gandhi took over in 1984, so sure was he of winning in 1989 too, that arrogance and bad governance set in immediately. He started on a very bad note by doing nothing when the anti-Sikh riots were going on and did absolutely nothing to push for the conviction of the guilty later on.
His decision to send the IPKF to Sri Lanka backfired spectacularly. There was the Shah Bano controversy and the disputed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was thrown open. The Golden Temple in Amritsar was stormed yet again through Operation Black Thunder.
Corruption and black money became major issues and Bofors became a negative mascot for quite some time. Rajiv antagonized the powerful VP Singh in his Cabinet and the latter left the party to topple the government.
When PV Narasimha Rao took over in 1991, it was an extremely shaky minority government. Despite that, they came out with Liberalization, arguably the most important move in Independent India.
Rao laid the foundations for both the economy and foreign policy for decades to come.
When the UPA took over in 2004, it was on shakier ground. Despite that it came out with RTI and NREGA. The economy was relatively stable. Manmohan Singh pushed strongly for the Nuclear Deal, something at that time seemed to ensure India’s energy security.
It is safe to say that the UPA peaked in 2009. They got re-elected with a greater mandate. Manmohan Singh seemed to have the backing of the nation and was expected to be more assertive in UPA2.
Heir apparent Rahul Gandhi toured the country extensively and that seemed to have translated into votes. He seemed good to become a cabinet minister immediately and was expected by some to take the PM’s post mid-stream.
But UPA2 went by the same old story of greater mandate for the Congress translating into bad governance.
Manmohan’s image is in tatters and Rahul has absolutely nothing to show in terms of governance as we head into 2014.
The economy has faltered consistently in UPA2 and we are seeing steady price hikes. Trinamool has walked out and the Congress is at the mercy of the SP and BSP.
Bofors seems short change compared to the massive scams of 2G, CWG and Coalgate. Other like scams like Aadhar, Tatra, Thorium, S-Band Devas Scam and Maharashtra Irrigation scam have been steadily coming with Choppergate merely being the latest.
Another low is that a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has come into the allegations list. First Robert Vadra was in the news for his DLF link and then his land deals in Rajasthan.
The security scene wasn’t too great either. In April 2010, Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore was targeted. Later in December, blasts in Varanasi led to a stampede that claimed 20. 26 were killed in the 13/7 serial blasts of Mumbai in 2011.
In a new low, the Delhi High Court was targeted in September 2011 claiming 12 lives. In August 2012, Pune also saw serial blasts. Finally we have had the recent Hyderabad blasts which claimed 17 lives.
What is worse is the way the buck is being passed between the Home Ministry and the Andhra Pradesh government.
There also have been no great strides regarding Kashmir militancy and Naxalism despite the UPA being on much stronger ground this time.
The Congress also seems to have clamped down in cyberspace with #Emergency2012 being a popular hashtag on Twitter last year.
The anti-corruption protests of 2011 and the anti-rape agitation of 2012 were also met with disdain by the ruling Congress.
The moral of the story seems to be if you want good governance from the Congress then you always have to keep them on the tenterhooks.
Give them a strong mandate and you’re in real trouble!
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