Democracy on a roll  

Election time is also time for gimmicks, trading of accusations, and floor-crossing by disgruntled elements. The BJP might be doing a disservice to itself by encouraging defections of the worst kind. Note the hurry with which it issued party membership to a rank outsider like Tom Vadakkan — a Congress spokesperson who was trashing the BJP all along. Or, see the BJP’s induction with lightning speed of a TMC MLA after he was denied party ticket to contest the forthcoming polls.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, having tasted success in assembly polls in the three Hindi-belt states late last year, appears to have re-energised himself for the big battle ahead – and with a new sense of confidence. But, there still are chinks in his armour. The Congress chief wrapped up the CWC meet and launched the party campaign for the Lok Sabha polls with a rally in Gujarat, and lost no time in flying South to engage in a rock star-style show with college girls in Chennai. Later he addressed a few campaign meets in Kerala as also Cape Comorin. Overall, it was a no-holds-barred attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the process, he went too far.

Rahul Gandhi ended up with shame on the Congress when he blamed PM Modi for his China policy vis-a-vis targeting Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council meet. Finance minister Arun Jaitley caught him on a slippery wicket and gave him an earful. What Jaitley sought to hammer home was that it was Jawaharlal Nehru, Rahul’s grandfather, who messed up with foreign policy with Pakistan vis-a-vis Kashmir and with China by trusting the inscrutable Mao and Beijing. This may be part of the normal political slug-fest, but election time is when rival sides have to build strong defences as also stronger offensives. Else, they end up as losers.

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As an Opposition the Congress strategy obviously is to try and catch Modi and his government on the wrong foot and expose wrongdoings but going for the overkill on issues like Rafale is tantamount to the Congress leadership forgetting the past. Public memory is short too, but not as short as to forget scams like Bofors. At the same time, the Congress leadership is found wanting in action – where action was urgently needed. While the Congress managed to firm up an alliance with the JDS in Karnataka for the upcoming polls, it stands to lose heavily in Uttar Pradesh due to its failure for a similar tie-up. So too with several other states.

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