Monday, January 15, 2018

Why did Media ignore Rahul Gandhi’s first speech outside India as Congress President?

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

I was curious as to why the English media ecosystem was ignoring Rahul Gandhi’s first speech outside the country as Congress President. He delivered this speech in Bahrain. Apart from a cursory mention, none of the usual suspects were lavishing him with praise. None of them went berserk, like they went during his earlier outing. The only reason I can think of is the speech was *so* bad that it had to be ignored,
So I finally garnered the courage to hear his speech in entirety, and yet again I was flummoxed at the gross incompetence of Rahul Gandhi and the sheer incoherence in his thoughts. As much as I feel like ignoring it, it is important that we bring out this incoherence to the larger audience.
He begins with a small story about his Chemistry teacher who was from Bahrain. And how she talked about how she never felt discriminated in Bahrain despite being an Indian. And then he poses his standard question of “Does everyone understand Hindi? Otherwise I can translate parts of my speech into English too”!
Moving on, he then tells us a story from UP. And he translates every Hindi sentence into English. The gist of the “story” is this: A woman in UP asked him to help remove a IPC 302 cases against her husband. He asked her if the husband committed the crime. She said yes, he did. Then Rahul asked what can I possible do? She then said, “what is the use of you politicians”.
It’s still the beginning of the speech, but one already begins to wonder what exactly is Rahul Gandhi’s point in telling this “story”. Looks like Rahul’s speech writers were also confused at this point of time to correlate the next part of his speech to this part. And they come up with an ingenious plan! Here is the text of how Rahul linked the two parts.
The lady asked me two questions:
1.      What we politicians are doing?
2.      What *the* politician was doing there?  
And these are the two questions I want to answer here:
1.      Why am I here?
2.      What am I trying to achieve?
Phew! I mean, he had to all the way to Bahrain to answer two questions that a lady asked him in UP many years ago? Such incoherence in Rahul Gandhi’s speeches is not something new. Almost every single speech of his is like this – and is typically lapped up the English media in our country as something revolutionary.
Rahul Gandhi then continues with the flow. “This time I am here to tell you what you mean to your country. That you are important. To tell you that there is a serious problem at home.”
Serious problem at home”, Mr. Rahul Gandhi? Because you are losing election after election? Because your thoughts don’t resonate with the voters in India? Why are you so keen to go abroad and talk about problems at your home?
The next few minutes of his speech read just like a campaign speech against India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He brings in the Independence struggle (incomprehensible what that struggle has to do with Bahrain!), and goes on to proclaim that “India today is free, but is under threat”.
Tells an outright lie that “Judges handling sensitive cases die mysteriously”. It is amazing how the English media ecosystem feeds him all these inputs, and equally amazing is how he gets away scot free!  He goes on to tell the audience that “What China does in two days, India takes one year.”
I find this love towards China a little disturbing. When the Doklam crisis was ongoing, Rahul Gandhi chose to meet representatives of the Chinese government and no one from the Indian government. At every possible instance, he praises the Chinese government and demeans the Indian government. He is talking as if 4 years back India was on par with China, and there has been a sudden dip in India’s performance post 2014.
Rahul Gandhi and his ancestors ruled India, and kept it backward while China surged ahead. So, while Rahul rues about the lack of “world class educational institutions” in India, it is a scathing commentary on his own family’s rule. I wonder why he keeps thinking that the people of India can’t see this through.
After a few minutes of ranting and bad mouthing the BJP government, he suddenly starts extolling the *entire* diaspora community for sending in a large remittances back to India! And then spends a couple of minutes thanking the *entire* diaspora community for their service to India
And then he ends with – “I have not come here to tell you anything really. No. I have come here to ask for your help. We need you to help us fight these forces of anger and hatred. We need you just as we needed you and our ancestors needed you in 1947
The speech began with “I am here to tell you that you are important”. It ended with “I have not come here to tell you anything.” The speech strangely makes multiple references to the Independence struggle! The speech makes no mention of how Rahul Gandhi seeks to tap their “help to fight these forces”.
Typically, keynote speakers spend anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes to talk to their audience. Unless of course time is a severe restriction. Rahul Gandhi’s speech was roughly 15 minutes long. Is it because he actually had no content to talk about, except rehash his recent Gujarat election speeches? Please do notice how the entire ecosystem downplayed this speech – it is because the speech was actually THAT bad.
This speech is as bad as any other speech he has delivered on foreign lands. Whilst the ecosystem went out of its way to hype his Berkeley speech I would urge you to listen to both of his speeches and decide for yourself if there is any difference between the two speeches!  
PS: Notice how he disparages and takes pride in UP’s backwardness. “Some years ago, I was travelling in UP. Dusty Roads.” “In UP you have to be suspicious, so I got suspicious.” This romanticizing of backwardness is well past its sell by date. Hopefully Rahul Gandhi will move past this!

Don’t worry NYT, our Economy is doing way better than your failing editorial standards

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference. 

This seems to be the season of predicting how India is doomed to fail in 2018. Earlier this month, controversial historian Ramachandra Guha made a similar prediction. The New York Times did not want to be seen as falling behind in joining this bandwagon, so they came up a longish article titled– “India’s Economic Woes Are Piercing Modi’s Aura of Invulnerability”
And one of their first analysis is the following:
Just about all economists agree that two of the prime minister’s biggest policy gambles — abruptly voiding most of the nation’s currency and then, less than a year later, imposing a sweeping new sales tax — have slowed India’s meteoric growth.
Read the last line again – “Imposing a sweeping new sales tax”! First of all, GST is not a sales tax. GST stands for Goods and Services Tax. It is baffling how the New York Times could merrily classify this as a sales tax.
Second of all, this “new sales tax” was never “imposed”. This has been decided and implemented by the GST Council – which includes governments of all states and the central government. And therefore, by extension, includes almost all major political parties in India (In this context, unfortunately I have to bracket AAP also as a major party).  A total of 23 meetings of the council have happened so far. All decisions of the meetings have been unanimous. Yes, unanimous. And yet miraculously, the New York Times wants to call this as an “imposition”.
The typical sweeping generalization has been the hallmark of the liberal gang from a long time. NYT attributes the observations to “Just about all economists”. Now, what kind of quantification is this? Just so that we don’t have to worry too much about this quantification, the NYT provides us an answer in the very next paragraph:
Things have been worsening, worsening, worsening,” said Himanshu, an economics professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, who uses only one name.”
There you go. The professor who uses only one name is our data point. The professor from the nearest accessible university, JNU, is our data point to arrive at the conclusion that a “sweeping sales tax” has been “imposed” on the country! And before we forget, “things are worsening, worsening, worsening”.
The next paragraph is even more baffling. Because one would expect a follow up to how “things are worsening, worsening, worsening”.
Still, the economy here is far from failing. The stock market continues to soar, major rail, road and port projects are unfolding across the country, and foreign investors poured $25.4 billion into India from April to September, up 17 percent from the period in 2016.
The government on Friday predicted that the country’s gross domestic product would grow by 6.5 percent in the 2017-18 financial year. While that is the lowest number the country has seen in four years, India’s economy is one that most countries would love to have.
Now I am slightly flummoxed. Is our economy doing terrible or well? If “India’s economy is one that most countries would love to have”, then why this scaremongering of “economic woes”. If the “economic woes” are indeed worse and real, then why would most countries “love to have” our economy?!
Unsure of how to continue the article further, the NYT immediately falls back on another standard argument.
But it does not feel that way to the huge number of Indians negatively affected by Mr. Modi’s policies, and the grumbles are growing. So are social tensions, especially those that divide Hindus from Muslims, and upper caste from lower caste.
Again, no quantification on “Huge number of Indians”. A mere opinion, perhaps based on interactions with some JNU students? So they move to their next best bet – the Gujarat elections!
Even in Gujarat, the state considered the strongest of Mr. Modi’s strongholds, where people have been cheering his rise for the past 20 years and line up in dusty fields by the thousands just to catch a glimpse of his saffron scarf and groomed white beard, many feel betrayed.”
I often wonder the need for so much prose, when things can be told in simple terms too! But then we digress. Here’s more:
“In December, in an election that the entire country was watching because it was seen as a referendum on Mr. Modi’s governance, Gujarati voters elected a new State Assembly. Mr. Modi’s party maintained its majority but lost 16 seats.
No mention of the victory in Himachal. Or of the 49% vote garnered. Or of the fact that a majority was “maintained” even after being in power for 22 years. A couple of responses by those who were not happy with Modi were printed; some examples from Surat were given but no mention was made of the fact that the BJP swept the elections in Surat. The piece then enters the GST territory (and here the correct abbreviation is given!), and the all too familiar complaints are again repeated. Yet no mention of the facts that many of these complaints (rate changes, process headaches, GSTN etc) were acted upon; many of the suggestions were incorporated; and the feedback process is robust and continuous (Details of all GST council meetings can be found here).
The article ended as pompously as it started.
“If economic maneuverability is limited,” said Ashutosh Varshney, a political-science professor and India specialist at Brown University, “then the communal card, the Hindu-Muslim card, is a massive political temptation.”
What or who exactly is a “India specialist”. Is that even a title? But hold on though, because in the next para, NYT gives an even better title to Pakistan.
One example was Mr. Modi’s accusations that opposition leaders were in cahoots with Pakistan, India’s rival and a nation with a strong Islamic identity, after some opposition leaders met some Pakistani officials at a recent social event.
Oh boy – Pakistan is merely a “nation with a strong Islamic Identity” it seems. Perhaps they should rename their country to “Strong Islamic Republic of Pakistan” then?
Is this rebuttal trying to deny the fact that there are no problems with the economy? Of course not! Which economy does not have a problem? Certain indices have gone down and certain indices have gone up (for example, as indicated in the NYT article itself!) – if I write a glowing article based on only the many rising indices not mentioned in the NYT article too, the liberal cabal will pounce on me saying that I am repeating the “India Shining” campaign.
The dip in the GDP growth rate is real. No one, including the Prime Minister, has denied this fact. The outlook of growth is also real. Something that doomsayers wouldn’t like to acknowledge. One of the doomsayers is a deputy editor of The Hindu and his lies have been exposed before. In 2008, the GDP growth rate fell down to 3.9% – do you folks recollect so much of negativity floating around. In 2012, GDP was 5.5% (fell from 10% in 2010) – do you folks recollect so much of negativity then?

It is one thing to express concern regarding setbacks and giving relevant feedback. It is a totally different thing to predict gloom and doom for the country, based on limited understanding and worse, lies.

Co-operative Federalism has helped both the newly formed states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to overcome a severe Power Crisis

The following article was published in MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference. 

On January 1st, 2018 – the Telangana government put out a front page ad in all newspapers.
The Telangana government has now promised 24*7 free power supply to the agriculture sector. There was some text that accompanied the ad too:
At the time if state formation, the state had to confront severe power crisis, 2 day power holiday to industry, 6-8 hours power cut to all categories of consumers, and erratic 6 hour supply to the farmers
The numbers in the above statement are completely true. At the time of splitting the state, the united AP was under a severe power crisis. The then Congress government did very little to mitigate this crisis. I wrote an article back in 2011, pointing out the woeful condition of power in our state then. When Sonia’s Congress was at the helm of affairs, the following statements were issued by the relevant authorities:
"The AP Transco and the distribution companies have decided to continue the present 12-hour power cut (6 a.m. to 6 p.m) in rural areas till the middle of next year..."
"AP Transco CMD Ajay Jain said the cut now would be implemented for two hours in Hyderabad and other such cities; four hours in district headquarters; six hours in municipalities and; eight hours in mandals"
"If any village gets supply for one or two hours during daytime now, it may be by mistake of the field staff."
So there we were – no power to villages during the day time (back in 2011), and completely erratic power supply to other parts of the state. By 2013, the power cut timings increased by a further 2 hours per day!
In addition to this, another surcharge was imposed on domestic consumers. It was called Fuel Surcharge adjustment. Distribution companies transferred the burden they incurred in 2009-2010, to the hapless consumers in 2013! I had shown some bills in this article here, where the energy charges were Rs. 500/-, and fuel charges were Rs. 1100/-!
How Co-operative Federalism helped both the newly formed Telangana and Andhra Pradesh overcome this crisis?
My intention is not to explain the technical details, because frankly I am not very familiar with those numbers. My intention is also not to discuss the merits or demerits of 24*7 free power. My intention is to highlight the transformation. My intention is to showcase, how as a common man, I see relief in not having to worry about power cuts anymore. As a tax payer and end-user, my only expectation is to have uninterrupted power supply. And we couldn’t even dream in 2014, that by 2017, both the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states will become power surplus states!
AP is ruled by NDA only, but Telangana is ruled by TRS, which is an opposition party to the BJP! Yet, the center did not show any discrimination in helping out both the states. Before anybody jumps at me to show some proof, I would urge you to listen to this speech of Chief Minister KCR talking about all the help received from the center. From 14:08 in this video, CM has clearly acknowledged how Piyush Goal has helped in overcoming this crisis by 2016 itself.
This is not to give entire credit to the Modi government alone. This is to give credit to the maturity of both the central and governments of the two states. This is to give credit to their focus on improving the life of people, irrespective of who is in power. If this is not true co-operative federalism, then what is? If this does not amount to putting politics aside for a larger purpose, then what is?
Today, people of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh don’t worry anymore about scheduled long power cuts. Both states have become power surplus, during the reforms of the past 3 years. Both states are also top users of Solar Power. Both states have signed up into the UDAY project that is aimed at covering up the losses of the distribution companies. Like I said earlier, there is enough literature available online, to explain the nitty gritty of this transformation – and as is evident, a large part of it is due to awesome co-operative federalism.
Amidst all this, what is the Congress reduced to? They called for a press conference yesterday , credited Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh, and asked the following (paraphrasing for better readability):
  1. “There are 25 power surplus states in the country. What is special about Telangana?” – this is an awesome way of putting forward the argument that the power situation in the entire country has drastically improved!
  2. “Similar was the case in most states and this was due to the vision of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.” – yeah right, people so believe this to be true!
  3. “Sonia Gandhi had allotted Sileru Project to Telangana and also a power project to be built by NTPC realizing the shortage when the State was formed but TRS could not retain Sileru project due its inefficiency.” – Sonia Gandhi has allotted? Oops!
  4. It is a matter of time before government increases power tariffs!
They are merely hoping that people will forget the burden imposed upon them by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress. Chandrababu Naidu has thrown a challenge that he will reduce the power tariffs soon – that’s how confident they seem to be!
Power Sector reforms are going to be one of the many long lasting impactful reforms ushered in by the Modi government in tandem with all the states of the country. Looking forward for more such reforms in the true co-operative federalism spirit!

Dear Ramachandra Guha- It is time you realize that a “Hindu Pakistan” won’t happen

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

After ‘Idea of India’, “Hindu Pakistan” seems to be the new buzzword in the Indian elite liberal boardrooms these days. The desperation of this club to somehow portray India in such poor light, is reaching unforeseen depths. One of the founding members of this club, Shri Ramachandra Guha, leaves no opportunity to use this phrase and “warn” that India is slowly becoming a “Hindu Pakistan”. In his latest outing in the Indian Express, he reiterates thus:
The republic of India is not yet a Hindu Pakistan. But it is closer to being one than at any previous time in its existence.
Well, tough luck Mr. Guha – for it takes extraordinary talent to achieve what Pakistan has achieved. Us poor Indians don't possess so much talent! Nor would we ever be capable of reaching the heights of such talent.
But what drives these club members to so much desperation? Ram Guha summarizes all of this to us in just 5 lines:
The first decade of the 21st century witnessed communal violence against Muslims in Gujarat and against Christians in Kandhamal. In the present decade, violence along communal lines has intensified. There have been episodes of large-scale rioting (in Kokrajhar and in Muzaffarnagar) while acts of aggression against Muslims and Christians are reported on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis.
Gujarat communal violence in 2002. Kandhamal (Odisha) communal violence in 2008. Kokrajhar (Assam) communal violence in 2012. Muzaffarabad communal violence in 2013. But it is only in 2017 that the liberal club thinks we are in the process of becoming a “Hindu Pakistan”! Also, what exactly is the purpose of the article? To review 2017 – which then means all the incidents mentioned become redundant. To review this century so far – which then means these incidents are not enough to define the unrest! Anyways, we digress.
The next argument (mentioned in the last line) is far reaching – “acts of aggression against Muslims and Christians are reported on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis 
Doesn’t it amaze you how the members of this club get away with such blatant lies and fearmongering – published in a newspaper available in half of the country? Can Ramachandra Guha give weekly (and sometimes daily) examples of aggression against Christians? Of aggression against Muslims, on a daily basis? He will not be able to – because such things do not exist. Such things do not happen with the alarming regularity the likes of Ram Guha want them to happen. It is a pity (an absolute pity) that this club uses incidents like these to create fear in the society.
The second problem that he highlights is “environmental sustainability”. And here again, we see the typical style of exaggeration. For example: “Our cities have the highest rates of air pollution in the world.” Sorry Mr. Guha, only Delhi has the highest rate of pollution. The others are managing well, or learning well. Another example: “The chemical contamination of our soils is colossal” – no statistics given, no proof provided. Mere statements to showcase death to all of us is just a few meals away!
The third problem that he highlights is one of the most favorite topic of the club- “Despite two-and-a-half decades of impressive economic growth, there remain deep inequalities of wealth and status. The farming sector is in distress and with anti-globalization sentiment on the rise…
Again, no statistics. Just run of the mill – “inequalities in wealth” – stuff. It is shocking that edit desk of the Indian Express would let this pass. No article on inequality is complete without a reference to the Ambanis – “While some rich Indians build 27-storey homes for their nuclear families, other (equally) rich Indians give away most of their money to alleviate poverty and deprivation.”
I find this obsession with the Ambanis fascinating. No really – what drives this animosity towards them? They didn’t do good things for the liberal club? It’s not that the club doesn’t know about the wealth that Ambanis have created for the country and its people. One day, I would really like to hear someone spill the beans about why the gang hates the Ambanis so much.
Realizing that he has gone way too negative in his first article for the year 2018 – he suddenly tells us that all is not bad with the country. And falls back yet again on their standard group - “Women and Dalits are increasingly challenging patriarchy and caste prejudice.” No mention of which time-period he is talking about. No mention about which government is encouraging them to break these shackles!
Where businessmen were once confined to particular privileged families, now thousands of young Indians fired merely with intelligence and audacity are starting their own companies in a hundred different fields.” No kidding Mr. Guha! Glad you have realized that these things are happening on the ground. Sad though that you didn’t realize that these things are the ones that happen more frequently, that matter more fervently, to all those Indians who care about making our country a better place than Pakistan.
You also told us about an advice you received from a Historian, after writing an article in 1992 – “The historian I most admired urged me to be less gloomy about India.”. The advice still holds true Mr. Guha. It is time you realize that a “Hindu Pakistan” won’t happen, and stop hoping for such an eventuality. It is never too late for you come out of your negativity, and help spread a positive message.
Happy new year to you too, from a fellow deshpremi!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

As Sonia Gandhi resigns, Why are we still being fed with the bogey of her “charisma” and “enigma”?

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference. 

A lot is now being written about the charisma, enigma and legacy of Sonia Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi. As Sunanda Vashisht has rightly pointed out – “I don’t understand emotional tributes to Sonia Ji. Where is she going? She has only passed on baton to her son. Control is still in the family.”  Because of these tributes, we have also been reminded of what a lovely couple Sonia and Rajiv have been, and how Sonia Gandhi stepped up to continue to the legacy of Indira and Rajiv. And how she won many victories for Congress, and how if Rajiv Gandhi was alive, he would have made a fine Prime Minister in 1991. And that’s when it stuck to me – to take you all down memory lane and remind you about some electoral numbers.
The 1989 election
The Congress party led by Rajiv Gandhi won 198 seats. Down from a whopping 404 seats won in 1984 (in the backdrop of Indira Gandhi’s assassination). Two governments changed by 1991, and mid-term elections were called. Today, we are being told that if not for his assassination, Rajiv was well on his way to become PM in 1991.
The 1991 election
The 1991 election was schedule in three phases. The first phase was over on May 20th. On the night of May 21st, Rajiv Gandhi (and 20 others) were killed in a ghastly assassination in Tamil Nadu. The next two phases were postponed to June 12th and 15th. Quite understandably, there was the sympathy factor for the Congress party in the next two phases. It is very important to study the results of 1991 elections pre and post the assassination. For some reason, it is very difficult to find detailed analysis being available widespread, except for these two sources. The first source is just a line in Wikipedia – “The congress party did poorly in the pre-assassination constituencies and swept the post-assassination constituencies.
The second, and most interesting find, is from “psephologist” Prannoy Roy in an interview to India Today then – “Nation-wide there was a swing away from the Congress (I) of 5.7 per cent in the first round of voting in May, which changed to a swing in favor of the Congress (I) of 1.6 per cent in the second round of voting in June. “ The interview does give good insights into the performance of many parties in different states, and is also noteworthy about how “psephologists” continue to be surprised at BJP’s performance from time eternal!
The Congress party won 232 seats in the 1991 elections. Up from 198 they had won in 1989. It is therefore quite clear that had the assassination not taken place, the number of seats that Congress would have won under Rajiv Gandhi would be much less than 232 for sure, and in all probability much less than 198! Rajiv Gandhi’s “charisma” wouldn’t have given Congress any edge than what it had in 1989!
Since 1989, the people of the country seem to care more about performance than charisma. This bogey of charisma has only been continuing in the English Language media.
The 1996 election
The Congress party, under the leadership of P. V. Narasimha Rao, won 140 seats. Down from 232 seats. Various reasons are attributed to this defeat, including scandals involving the Prime Minister’s office itself. Narasimha Rao eventually resigned as the President of Congress, because he didn’t want to appear in court as an accused in Bribery scandal while holding the post of Congress President. Or maybe they were searching for excuses to remove him as President! Either way, he had to go.
Curiously, Rajiv Gandhi stayed on after the disastrous loss of 1989 (Down from ~404 seats to 198 seats). Curiously, the Prime Minister’s office when Rajiv Gandhi was PM was also embroiled in corruption related controversies. Yet, nothing seems to matter when it comes to losses under the families reign!
The 1998 election
Sitaram Kesri was the President of Congress. Sonia Gandhi campaigned for the party too. The Congress won 141 seats. Almost same as the 1996 election. A couple of months after the results were announced, Sitaram Kesri was unceremoniously removed from the post of Congress President because of poor performance of the party, and the baton was handed over to Sonia Gandhi. The pre-poll alliance of NDA won 254 seats, 18 seats short of majority. And the government lasted only 13 months.
The 1999 election
Under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership, the party won 114 seats. The lowest ever till that point of time. Quite predictably, no one called for her resignation nor was there pressure on her to resign. Just like there was no pressure on Rajiv to step aside. The family just cannot be touched at any cost. The pre-poll alliance of NDA won a real majority of 299 seats (including TDP).
The 2004 election
The Congress party won 145 seats. Basically, back to what it was holding in the 1996 and 1998 elections. However, the BJP lost more than 50 seats it held previously. The Congress entered into alliances with some regional parties in many states and benefitted hugely from their (the regional parties) ground presence – similar to how BJP did benefit in the 1998 and 1999 elections.
A curious statistic here is that in terms of vote percentages won, the pre-poll NDA got ~2% more votes than the pre-poll UPA! So much for Sonia Gandhi’s “victory”!
BJP’s allies also lost badly in some states in 2004 – therefore in my opinion, the 2004 election was BJP’s loss than Congress’s victory. Either way, the Congress party was only marginally able to increase its tally – with the pre-poll alliance winning 218 seats, well short of a majority! Well short of what even the NDA won in 1998! The Left parties and other regional parties like SP and BSP have fared exceptionally well in this election, but mysteriously this election was touted as a revival of Congress party by Sonia Gandhi!
The 2009 election
The Congress party won 206 seats in this election, up from its 145 in 2004. However, the pre-poll alliance of UPA won 262 seats, only 10 seats short of a majority.  This was the only time where Sonia Gandhi led Congress had revived its fortune in such a large percentage. This high percentage growth, in terms of seats, was not seen even during the 1991 election when a sympathy wave existed. A bland campaign by the BJP, several populist programs by the UPA (loan waiver, NREGA), anger against the Left parties etc. helped in this increase. And in my opinion, this is the only real victory of Sonia Gandhi in her long career as Congress President.
The 2014 election
The Congress party won 44 seats. Their lowest ever. And this is not because of some sympathy wave that existed like in 1984. This was genuine anger – against the Congress (led by Sonia Gandhi). Their second lowest ever was 114 – again under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership only. This time, the campaign was jointly led by the mother and son. No clamor after the defeat, for her resignation. No unceremonious calls for her exit. Only mere requests for her son to take over. Only mere requests to keep control with the family despite the disaster, but only change the name plate at the President’s office (if such a thing existed in the Congress headquarters). No calls for resignation when she appeared as an accused in court (Remember the clamor when PV Narasimha Rao had to resign for a similar accusation?).
The BJP on its own won a clear majority (282 seats). The pre-poll NDA won 336 seats. This was the second time that the NDA won a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. Yet, we endlessly keep hearing about how they got only 38% votes. I don’t recollect so many discussions when Sonia’s Congress didn’t even win enough number of seats to form a government, much less enough voting percentages!
Let me summarize all these numbers to you in one table:
The Congress party or its pre poll alliances has never won a majority in the Lok Sabha since 1984. In the 33 years since then, the Congress party was led by the family for nearly 24 years. Neither has it ever won a huge percentage of votes – the reason I bring this up again is because of the endless discussions we had to endure about NDA winning “only” 38% of votes in 2014. The most obvious question that pops out is why is this yardstick not applied to the family? If Modi is “divisive” because of 38%, then so is Sonia Gandhi! If Modi doesn’t have the approval of majority of the country, so did Sonia!
In recent memory, the Congress party has lost nearly all states since 2014. The yardstick applied to Congress leaders from outside the party, hasn’t been applied to Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Instead, even after all these years, even after all these results, we are still being fed with the bogey of “charisma” and “enigma” of the ‘first family’ of Congress.