Thursday, August 23, 2012

Congress riled by BJP demand for PM's resignation, displays rare support to Manmohan Singh. BJP touched a raw Congress nerve by attacking Singh

It is true that Congress president Sonia Gandhi went all out to support Manmohan Singh on the India-United States civil nuclear deal in UPA1, especially in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha election and during the 2008 no-confidence motion. The rest of the party took the cue from the party president, and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi came out in support of nuclear power as well. In UPA2, the Congress, no doubt under Sonia Gandhi's directions, has always been alert to any attack on the prime minister. One of the reasons that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report in the 2G spectrum scam was not allowed to go through by the Congress members in the commitee because the report indicted the prime minister. The latest row in the JPC arose because the BJP wanted the prime minister to come before the committee, and the Congress members closed ranks and stood like a wall. This is a rare show of support extended by the party to a non-Nehru-Gandhi family member. The Congress never rallied round Narasimha Rao. Manmohan Singh has managed to win the hearts and support of the party members who belong to the clan of Nehru-Gandhi supporters. This is a rare achievement for Manmohan Singh.

On Thursday (Aug 23), party president Sonia Gandhi speaking at the Congress parliamentary party (CPP) told members of Parliament not to be defensive and take the battle to the opposition and refute the corruption charges. This was followed by an interestingly belligerent press briefing by the party's media cell chairman Janardhan Dwivedi. Dwivedi resorted to the customary Congress rhetoric about a conspiracy theory. He gave it a new and curious twist. He blamed the BJP for depending on on outside crutch to fight the Congress. They depended on Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) in the 1970s, they took the help of V.P.Singh in 1989, they fell back on the mandir issue and brought down the 'mandir' in Ayodhya -- "well, I do not want to go into the history" he said -- and for some reason did not use the word Babri Masjid. Then recently, the BJP was depending on Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev to get at the Congress.

Dwivedi was of course making the legitimate argument that the BJP is not fighting the battle on the basis of its own tenets and programmes, and that it looks to a charismatic outsider to ride on to victory. There are two implications here. The pary spokesman has cleverly avoided criticising JP, V.P.Singh, the Babri Masjid issue, Hazare and Ramdev or even blaming them. He is blaming the BJP for depending on these people and on the mandir issue.

The second issue is as to the aggression that Sonia Gandhi displayed and the belligerence that Dwivedi showed. It looks like that by attacking Manmohan SIngh, the BJP has touched a raw nerve in the Congress. 


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