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Deepening Rivalry

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Parliamentary democracy is discovering new dimensions with unprecedented events occurring in Parliament, as well as the Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha. In the ongoing battle between the BJP and the Congress, never before scenes have been witnessed, with MPs from the Treasury Benches protesting in the House against Rahul Gandhi’s recent appeal to the US and the EU to ‘help restore democracy in India’.

In Uttarakhand, another first of its kind incident (for the state) took place when protests in the Well of the House led Speaker Ritu Khanduri Bhushan to suspend all the MLAs of the Congress for the rest of the day on Tuesday.

It is clear that the battle-lines are being drawn to further the Modi versus Rahul scenario for the next Lok Sabha contest. It benefits the BJP to have Rahul Gandhi as the primary rival because he suffers greatly in comparison. On the other hand, the Congress is looking even further down the road, as it would consolidate Rahul’s claim to be the opposition candidate for PM. The idea is to attract the anti-Modi votes that would normally go to other opposition parties. So, the strong regional parties would be the ultimate losers (the Congress hopes).

It is clear in this scenario that the increasing bitterness between the two national parties is not going to decrease in the foreseeable future. It must be said, however, that the Congress is not playing the game with the required deftness. It had the Adani issue to directly attack Modi, which would have lasted for as long as desired. Unfortunately for it, Rahul Gandhi’s ill-advised speeches on foreign soil have given the BJP a very long stick to wield. This is why there is not likely to be any let-up on the confrontations in the legislative bodies and the streets.

It may turn out that other opposition parties, particularly those in power in various states, may cosy up to the BJP in the days to come. This is because they are not only averse to handing over leadership to Rahul Gandhi, but are also facing difficulties that only the Union Government can help resolve. So, interesting permutations and combinations are likely to emerge, particularly after the results of the Karnataka elections. Hopefully, genuine democracy will emerge the winner in the end.