It’s arrogance combined with stupidity for Congress-Politics News, Firstpost
Manmohan Singh’s government has in recent months scored many embarrassing personal goals on political and political fronts.
Manmohan Singh’s government has in recent months scored many embarrassing personal goals on political and policy fronts.
He flip-flopped on rising gas prices; in April he aggressively opposed the Lokpal bill, but by August he had shamefully acquiesced; he then hesitated on the questions of the inclusion of the Prime Minister and the employees of groups C and D in the final draft Lokpal law which will be presented to Parliament; and more recently unveiled its retail FDI policy with borderline arrogance, only to back down as, first the opposition, then its own ally in the form of Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress, howled in protest at the proposed plans.
What is common to all these fiascos is the astonishing confidence in the first steps of the Congress, as if the leaders of the party were absolutely certain that their opinion – and their will – would prevail. Then came rumors of a raid, met with instant denial. Then came the downhill or backtracking which, in any case, left them red-faced.
One would assume that congressional leaders know the simple arithmetic and would have done their math before making a major announcement – and that the answers suggest they would be in a position to prevail.
It is increasingly evident that arithmetic is their Achilles’ heel.
Floor management has never been more difficult than it is today. In the lok sabha, there are only two parties (Congress and BJP) with more than 22 seats. There are eight parties with between 10 and 22 seats. There are 10 other parties which have between 3 and 9 seats each. Finally, there are 19 parties with either one seat or two seats.
In the Rajya Sabha, things are worse. There are four parties that have between 13 and 70 seats. There are 10 parties that have more than four seats but less than 9 seats. Finally, there are 14 parties which have 1, 2, 3 or 4 seats each.
The UPA remains in power thanks to the support of parties like the Trinamool Congress; the Congress, with only 207 members in the Lok Sabha, needs the support of a minimum of 65 members to carry any proposal – and it is not easy. On the issue of retail FDIs, for example, when he lost the support of the TMC (18 members), he needed 36 more votes to get the vote through (unless, of course, Trinamool got out of hand). abstain and do not vote against the proposal).
In Rajya Sabha, where the Congress has only 70 seats (out of 241), things are even more difficult.
This is why one cannot understand the recent decisions of the leaders of Congress. Where the hell did they think the numbers would come from?
It is not necessary to answer the question if they believed the TMC would support the FDI Bill – which they did not.
So why did Congress believe he had the support of the TMC? Have its leaders spoken to Mamata’s henchmen? Did they even discuss the matter before making the announcement?
On every issue, there will be opposing views – and not just the opposition. UPA voters will always have ‘regional’ issues that could conflict with ‘central’ plans – because parties such as the DMK, TMC and NCP, for example, draw strength from small geographic areas where the constraints of provincial politics might force them to take a stand against a congressional position.
The only way for Congress to project itself as a decisive party is to be seen as getting things done. For this to happen, there is no simple and easy solution; there is only the painful path, which they have avoided: negotiations.
On every issue, Congress must remember that it is not leading the government, it is a coalition. The Congress will have to sell its philosophy to its “partners” and convince them of the merits of each proposal.
Failure to do so makes the task even more difficult: because then he has to catch the “games” with one or two members each and negotiate with each one.
The Congress must remember that arithmetic is of the utmost importance – to pass a proposal in the Lok Sabha it needs the support of 272 members. Get that number right and then worry about the rest. If you get that number wrong, as was the case with IDE policy, all it gets is embarrassment.