The no-confidence motion against the NDA government, introduced by the TDP and supported with conjured enthusiasm by the Congress and other Opposition parties, was the last opportunity for the Congress, ahead of 2019, to rise to the occasion and prove itself a worthy leader. However, it effortlessly squandered away another opportunity, helping the NDA emerge stronger than ever before.
Why? O' Why?
The most intriguing question is this: Why do you need a no-confidence motion knowing fully well that the no-confidence motion is a test of numeric strength on the floor of the House and you just don't have the numbers? Moreover, the Congress knew it just as well that the ruling party has better orators and that the prime minister's impactful speeches on the floor of the House have, in the past, more than made up for his limited interaction with the media.
What was equally surprising was the TDP beginning the discussion on the vote of confidence by not sparing the Congress for its role in the flawed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, hence blaming it for the present mess. Now in such a paradoxical situation, the no-confidence motion was a non starter from the word 'go'.
Come Rahul speech
Rahul Gandhi, who is obsessed with the word jumla, this time came up with a new, absurd coinage — "jumla strike". One can’t but wonder if he is really so naïve to not have realised the implications of this coinage? Modi’s savage response in his speech would make Rahul shudder at the thought of using the word again.
Personally, I was very disappointed with Rahul’s speech. The contrived aggression aside, instead of basing his speech on hard facts, he employed brazen falsehood and loose talk. Why would he want to drag the French president into the discussion knowing fully well that he had no verifiable sources to back his content? Moreover, such juvenile behavior unnecessarily impacts the excellent relations India has with France.
The other grave charge that he made was around Modi helping businessmen loot the country. Later, Modi at his fiery best, did well to let the country know that the bank loot actually began in 2008 when the UPA was jittery about its prospects in 2009 elections. Upon being re-elected, this loot went on till 2014. The indiscriminate loans disbursed during this period to ineligible clients bears testimony to this loot. Thanks to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code coming into effect, more than Rs one lakh crore have found their way back into the banks in the last one year, something Rahul is perhaps ignorant of.
Anyway, a significant population of ours doesn’t care for content. This chunk was perhaps quite impressed by Rahul's aggressive tenor, until he messed it all up with some unstable comic behaviour. I mean, why would a man spew venom at the BJP and Modi throughout his speech, then end it by accusing the BJP of spreading hatred, then acknowledge that the prime minister has taught him to be a true Hindu, then rush across for an impulsive hug and then conclude the act with a cheeky wink. For me, this seemed like worrisome behavior, symptomatic of anxiety related depression. Anyway, since I am not an authority on this, I’d rather leave it to a psychologist to analyse if this behavior was normal.
Modi vanquishes the Opposition
Knowing the nature of the no-confidence motion where the final speech would be by the prime minister, any sensible Opposition would have avoided it.
Modi was expectedly at his fiery best, mixing up humour with hard facts and stinging rebuttals which carried enough history lessons about the Congress party. Interestingly, while Congress was in his firing line, an underlying effort to reach out to regional parties like the TRS was evident in his speech.
The end result, I am sure was an eye-opener for the entire so called Mahagathbandhan: 326 votes against the motion, just 125 in favour it.
The crucial takeaway
One, the so-called Mahagatthbandhan is a myth. It is a figment of a few parties’ imagination and their unabashed lust for power. In reality, half of the supposed Mahagathbandan constituents are fence-sitters and can swing either away depending upon who shares power with them. A simple look at the voting pattern on the no-confidence motion, proves this. Now, the NDA had only 315 MPs in 2014. Eighteen MPs from Shiv Sena abstained from voting on the motion. This means that the no-confidence motion actually gave NDA new allies accounting for 29 MPs.
If the no-confidence motion alone can make the NDA stronger by 29 new MPs, then the Mahagathbandhan surely has disaster written all over it.
Two, while Rahul Gandhi may be gloating in his success at keeping the BJP out of power in Karnataka, in reality, backing the JD(S) has triggered a new set of existential problems for the Congress. Now every regional party realises how desperate the Congress is and has started exploiting the situation by blackmailing it with more and more demands before an alliance. If you ask any of these regional parties if they'd back a Congress prime minister, they scoff at the prospect. This really leaves the Congress in a helpless spot, where it has reduced itself to being at the mercy of regional satraps.
Three, as Modi sarcastically reminded Rahul twice in his speech, there is no competition for him till 2024. That wasn’t arrogance. That is the writing on the wall today.
I had recently been to Israel as part of a delegation to engage with political strategists and the business community there. Thanks to the grim picture the Opposition has managed to paint about India, there were anxious queries from people about what could be the result of 2019. I would calmly tell these potential stake holders, "Relax and just go ahead with your plans. Any change of government is unlikely before 2024."
The author is a BJP leader and tweets @tuhins. Views expressed are personal.
Updated Date: Jul 24, 2018 12:43 PM