Democracies are often pronounced dead and instantly resurrected in the constant churn of political fortunes – and this morning, it was Rahul Gandhi’s turn to grimly tell around a fifth of the world’s population that they were newly bereaved.
Gandhi’s Congress party is an ailing political force. Today, its hopes of building up steam ahead of next year’s general elections suffered a crushing blow when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP formed a government in Karnataka, despite trailing a Congress-JD (S) coalition in a tally of assembly seats.
“The BJP’s irrational insistence that it will form a government in Karnataka, even though it clearly doesn’t have the numbers, is to make a mockery of our Constitution,” Gandhi wrote in a message to his millions of Twitter followers.
“This morning, while the BJP celebrates its hollow victory, India will mourn the defeat of democracy,” he said.
The ‘Murder of Democracy’ happens the minute a desperate Congress made an ‘opportunist’ offer to the JD(S), not for Karnatakas welfare but for their petty political gains. Shameful!
– BJP president Amit Shah | Twitter/@AmitShah
BS Yeddyurappa after being sworn in as Karnataka’s new chief minister. (Photo: Reuters)
But there could yet be an epilogue in the Karnataka story, and the Congress intends to fight tooth and nail to pen one. For though its leader may lament democracy’s decline, it has, in practice, kept the faith.
After Karnataka’s governor invited Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to be sworn in, the Congress and the JD (S) turned last night to that key pillar of democratic republics: the judiciary.
In a frentic bid to stall Yeddyurappa’s oath-taking ceremony, the coalition tried to convince a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court to stay his appointment.
The hearing ended at dawn. Although there were no whoops of joy from Gandhi’s men – the court declined the request – they’ll hold on to a sliver of consolation. The bench wants to see documents at a hearing tomorrow, and says the formation of the new Karnataka government is subject to its final ruling.
In any case, the coalition still claims majority support. If a floor test confirms that, Gandhi could be tweeting in less sombre tones soon.
“See what is happening in Karnataka,” he said at a rally in Chhattisgarh. “MLAs are on one side and [the] Governor on another. And you know what is the intention.”
The Congress president brought up allegations that the BJP attempted to make turncoats out of JD (S) lawmakers by promising them prodigious sums of money. “And then they talk about corruption,” he said.
But political discourse notwithstanding, Gandhi will soon participate in the greatest spectacle of democracy anywhere in the world.
When hundreds of millions of voters elect a new Lok Sabha next year, his great rival — Prime Minister Narendra Modi — will seek a fresh mandate.
The Congress president dreams – some would say fantasises – of replacing him.