Will 2011 ruin 2014 for Congress?

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 08, 2011 11:51 hrs

​So what are the chances of the BJP coming to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections? If you ask most commentators, then they'll say that it's improbable and if you ask most Congressmen, then they'll say it's impossible.

This unfortunate perception is what explains the current arrogance of the Congress party.

High on hubris, the party is convinced that it cannot be displaced from the Centre in the years to come.

Therefore, it can say what it wants (a la Digvijay Singh) and do what it wants (a la kicking Baba Ramdev out of Delhi in a brutal police action).

Whether you agree with Baba Ramdev's views or not, whether you like his fast blackmail tactics or not, it is very difficult to condone the government's unilateral action of waking up thousands of sleeping peaceful demonstrators and showing the door to someone you yourself had put on a pedestal.

The reactions have been of great outrage.

The post-midnight police action at the Ram Lila grounds has been likened to the Emergency and even the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. Baba Ramdev likened himself to Shivaji defying the Mughal Empire.

It is difficult to think of a single event which has aroused such emotions in the recent past.

If you forget your history...

But if the Congress is so arrogant that it is sitting at an unreachable perch, then it only has to look to history.

As they say, those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi won the Indo-Pak war and liberated Bangladesh. She vanquished all her major opponents and launched her grand and catchy "Garibi Hatao" campaign.

And yet despite all that Indira started losing her grip over the country.

What followed were the famous Jayaprakash Narayan campaign and the subsequent Emergency.

In fact in the 1977 elections, the Congress lost a whopping 200 Lok Sabha seats as the opposition bagged nearly 300. Had it not been for the chronic infighting of the Janata Party, Indira might have had to wait for a very long time for her comeback.

In 1984, Rajiv Gandhi won an unheard of 400 seats. He stormed to power with almost dictatorial powers. But in a period of five years all that was slowly frittered away with Bofors being the biggest fiasco. In 1989, Rajiv got less than half of his 1984 tally.

Again, it was infighting and a Rajiv assassination sympathy wave that brought the Congress back to power.

Then in 2004, it was the turn of the BJP to jump on to the hubris bandwagon. Almost all experts were sure that the NDA would return to power and the ruling government even pre-poned the general elections by a few months.

Very few people remember that at that point Manmohan Singh was a non-entity, Sonia Gandhi was in the wilderness and the average Congressman was thoroughly demoralized.

Even when Manmohan came to power no-one had any confidence in the UPA and even the sensex tanked.

While the UPA was cautious in its first term, it has gone over the top in its second term.

People like Digvijay should note that what the Indian electorate gives, it can take away with equal ease.

Congress on a slippery path...

While Rajiv Gandhi had Bofors and Atal Behari Vajpayee had Godhra, Manmohan is cursed with a bouquet of thorns.

CWG. Adarsh. 2G. Lokpal. The current UPA regime has been hurtling from one controversy to another.

In fact, whenever the opposition has been in disarray, the Congress has managed to first put its foot in its mouth and then shoot itself in the foot.

Before the Ram Lila crackdown, the Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev camps were divided. Now they have been brought together by their antagonism of the current government.

Before the Ram Lila crackdown, the BJP looked muted. Now it looks rejuvenated.

But more critical than that is the Congress' total disregard for the average voter.

While corruption has reached sickening levels (it is very difficult even for a Congressman to counter the opposition charge of UPA 2 being Independent India's most corrupt government) instead of showing its anti-corruption resolve through the Lokpal Bill, it is appearing to do just the contrary.

The Prime Minister called the Ram Lila incident "unfortunate and unavoidable".

At this rate in 2014 the Indian voter may well find the Congress quite unfortunate and totally avoidable.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/