Congress embarks on 'save democracy' protest over crises in Karnataka, Goa, but spate of resignations continues

A month and a half after the Lok Sabha election results, the Congress' idea of capturing the imagination of the country was to hold a "save democracy" protest in the Parliament House premises. The protest was led by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Her son Rahul Gandhi, who recently resigned as Congress president, joined her in sloganeering.

This was not the first time that the Congress held a "save democracy" protest, whether inside the Parliament premises or outside. Unfortunately for the party, it failed to impress even some of its own leaders, as several of them have jumped ship to the BJP in recent times.

The protest was held in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue, and its objective was to draw the attention of the people and media towards the desertion of Congress MLAs in Goa and Karnataka. In Goa, barring five MLAs, the Congress' entire legislature party has merged with the BJP. The BJP now has a majority in the Goa Assembly, as it has 27 members in the 40-member state Assembly. In Karnataka, around a dozen Congress MLAs and three legislators of its ally JD(S) have resigned from membership of the state Assembly, reducing the JD(S)-Congress government to a hopeless minority. In Gujarat, two prominent Congress MLAs, including Alpesh Thakor, who till recently used to directly communicate with Rahul Gandhi, resigned immediately after cross-voting for BJP candidate S Jaishankar in the Rajya Sabha election.

 Congress embarks on save democracy protest over crises in Karnataka, Goa, but spate of resignations continues

A protest by the Congress to 'save democracy' in the Parliament premises on Thursday. Image courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders in the Congress appear to be completely unmindful of the fact that among those who quit the Congress are those who have been ministers, or have presided over PSUs, with perks and privileges equivalent to those of ministers.

The Congress is blaming the BJP for the crisis in Karnataka, without even making the pretence of an introspection into why the party is withering across the nation. Remember, it takes a lot for an MLA, that too of the ruling combine to resign and go for re-election when the term of the House is to expire only three or four years later. Such an MLA take a plunge into an uncertain future. The reasons for doing so have to be compelling, and have to be more than promises of ministerial berths in an alternative government (if it is formed), or any other material benefit. The leaders from the Congress party who resigned obviously believe that their prospects would be doomed in the grand old party in the immediate future.

The Congress also has to realise that the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, KR Ramesh (from the Congress) has to be fair and impartial and has to be seen as being so. The fact that the Supreme Court had to intervene on Thursday and direct the Speaker to give an audience by evening to each of the MLAs who resigned, immediately act on the matter, and inform the apex court of his decision by Friday morning, is reflective of the situation. It underscores that the Speaker is not doing what is expected of him.

The Supreme Court order is a blow to the Congress-JD(S) combine in Karnataka.

The Congress also does not have the moral authority to point fingers at anyone else in Karnataka. In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress' tally was reduced from 122 to 80 seats in the 224-member House. The JD(S) also got only 37 seats, down from 40 seats in the previous Assembly. On the other hand, the BJP's tally increased from 42 MLAs to 104 MLAs.

What happened thereafter is history. In the Lok Sabha election, not even the strongest Congress and JD(S) leaders like HD Deve Gowda and Mallikarjun Kharge could win the poll battle. This would certainly have had a bearing on what is happening in Karnataka now.

Rahul Gandhi has made the situation worse for the Congress by resigning as party president. The party is presently a demoralised and rudderless lot.

The Congress’ tweets on the recent 'save democracy' protest in Parliament are revealing. It refers to Sonia Gandhi as CPP (Congress Parliamentary Party chief) leader, but refers to Rahul Gandhi simply by name, and does not mention any post. This is an official admission by the party that Rahul’s resignation has finally been accepted.

Earlier, Rahul, as Congress president or as campaigner for the party, used to boast about the ideological commitment Congress party leaders and workers had. He claimed that the Congress was fight for the “idea of India,” and battling the BJP and RSS with "love." However, several Congress leaders, including some MLAs. appear to have rejected Rahul's idea of India, and have done a rethink on their "love" for the Congress.

Follow live updates on the Karnataka political crisis here

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2019 18:44:45 IST