Crystal gazing is an ancient practice that started in Rome sometime in 5th Century A.D. With crystal ball the gazer could predict future. Interestingly, crystal balls are available in the 21st century and some people still practice the art of crystal gazing. Some Congress leaders are amongst those who see future in a crystal ball.
Rahul Gandhi’s statement in Bengaluru on May 8 was important for two things at a Press conference. First, he said, “I am convinced that Narendra Modi will not be Prime Minister in 2019”. The second point he made at the Press conference was that he will be Prime Minister in 2019 in case the Congress Party wins a majority or is the single largest party within the coalition partners. There is nothing to object about his statement that he will be Prime Minister or he nurses ambition of becoming Prime Minister of India. Any politician wants to occupy the highest office of Prime Minister. But let us first discuss his prediction that Narendra Modi will not be Prime Minister in 2019.
It reminds me of a similar statement of Mani Shanker Ayer in 2014 when he had said that “Yeh chaiwala will never never never become Prime Minister of India. If Modi wants we can provide him with a place to sell tea at Talkatora Stadium”. The AICC session was being held there in 2014. I am not sure if Ayer before making the statement had gazed Crystal Ball at his residence. One may ask Rahul Gandhi if he too has a Crystal Ball at his residence.
The BJP won a thumping majority on its own in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India in May 2014. Elections are still a year away from now. On the surface, there is no palpable anti-incumbency sign against the Modi Government. The hue and cry being made over demonetisation, GST, impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra, raising the death of Judge H B Loya and serving notice of No Trust Motion against the government in Lok Sabha have failed to ignite a fire. People have not responded to the Congress or for that matter Opposition Parties charges against the government as it completes four years in office this month.
Now coming to Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister it can be safely said that nobody can stop him from occupying the chair of Prime Minister if the mandate is in favour of the Congress. In case, the Congress fails to win a majority in Lok Sabha, it is a big question mark who will be the next Prime Minister from within the anti-BJP front partners.
Amongst those aspiring to become Prime Minister in case BJP loses in the polls, chances of which are far remote, are Mamata Banerjee, leader of Trinamool Congress and chief minister of West Bengal, K. Chandra Shekar Rao, chief minister of Telangana, Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and also a former Minister of Defence in the United Front Government of H D Devegowda and Mayawati of Bahujan Samaj Party. The Bahujan Samaj Party leader who was campaigning in Karnataka was described by JD(S) leader Danish Ali as a national leader and a potential claimant to Prime Minister’s office.
Leave aside who will be Prime Minister of anti-BJP front alliance there is a strong reservation within the so-called third front or national front about the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee, who is leading the brigade of the anti-BJP front, has conveyed to friendly parties that Rahul Gandhi should not be accepted as the leader of the national front that would fight elections against BJP as one coalition. The reasons advanced by some Opposition leaders are that Rahul still needs to mature in politics. Leaders like Chandra Shekhar Rao and Chandra Babu Naidu are understood to be against including the Congress Party in the alliance. These leaders want a non-BJP, non-Congress front to fight the BJP.
The impeachment motion against Chief Justice Dipak Mishra which now stands demolished after the Congress withdrew its petition challenging the ruling of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejecting the notice after the Chief Justice constituted a five-member Constitution Bench to hear the plea of the Congress petitioner Kapil Sibal on May 7. Sibal withdrew the petition on May 8 saying that the Bench was not constituted properly as all four members of the Collegium were excluded. Chief Justice Mishra was not on the Bench since the impeachment was against him. The point that I want to highlight is many MPs of Rajya Sabha who are part of the anti- BJP front had not signed on the impeachment motion notice served to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Amongst them were Members of Trinamool Congress and Members of the RJD who did not sign for impeachment motion. Some MPs of Samajwadi Party had also not signed on the motion against the chief justice. The DMK Members also stayed away from the move against Chief Justice Mishra.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi better stops gazing the Crystal Ball! If you insist gazing the ball better try to read the predictions correctly.
R K Sinha
(The writer is the Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)