“It is a fine game to play — the game of politics — and it is well worth waiting for a good hand before really plunging.”
Going by Winston Churchill’s quote, the Congress would indeed be looking at Lok Sabha (LS) elections 2019 with a lot more confidence given that it has managed to land with three aces (states) in the recent assembly elections. After being wiped out in the tsunami of 2014, the country’s grand old party, till a year back, was not even being considered a force to reckon with in 2019. However, with the achhe din narrative unraveling with the two big initiatives of the government — demonetisation and GST — failing to deliver on its grand promises, growing farm distress, and a flagging job market, the aura of invincibility around the Modi government is waning. And it’s showing.
The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview with ANI mentioned that he wasn’t given a mandate to win the 2019 elections but to govern for five years is in stark contrast to his victory speech in 2014 where he had hinted at being in power for 10 years. While in opposition, the BJP had capitalised on the sense of anger that voters had nurtured against the UPA-II for being corrupt and, today, the Congress sees the Rafale deal as Modi’s Achilles heel. The party has alleged that Modi has increased the benchmark price of the deal to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from France from €5.2 billion to €8.2 billion, resulting in a loss to the exchequer, besides favouring industrialist Anil Ambani through an offset deal. Prashant Bhushan, a public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court (SC) and one of the petitioners in the Rafale PIL, says, “The perception advantage that the Modi government had over Congress in terms of corruption has been washed off by the Rafale deal.” Though the SC had thrown out all petitions, stating that there were no irregularities in the deal, Bhushan believes otherwise. “It’s a ham-handed judgement aimed at pu