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Congress struggles against cross votes and rebellion

Feb 29, 2024 07:59 AM IST

The Congress party has lost at least six state governments in the past ten years due to cross voting or party MLAs turning hostile

In the year 2000, Debiprasad Ray was the official Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha when the dominant faction of the West Bengal Congress propped up an independent, Jayanta Bhattacharyya. The latter, supported by the then nascent Trinamool Congress, defeated Ray, the first such mishap for the party in Bengal.

The Congress party has lost at least 6 state govts in the past 10 yrs due to cross voting or party MLAs turning hostile. (Representative file photo)
The Congress party has lost at least 6 state govts in the past 10 yrs due to cross voting or party MLAs turning hostile. (Representative file photo)

Over the years, cross-voting and desertion of MLAs have become a serious problem for the Congress party, which has taken a turn for the worse in the in the last ten years.

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The Congress party has lost at least six state governments in the past ten years due to cross voting or party MLAs turning hostile.

In 2016, the entire Congress Legislative Party except its floor leader Nabam Tuki left the Congress and formed joined People’s Party of Arunachal, which later merged with the BJP.

In the same year, nine Congress MLAs cross voted against their government’s budget in favour of the BJP.

While the Uttarakhand assembly Speaker ignored their votes and declared that the budget has been passed through voice vote. The Harish Rawat government was temporarily removed but he came back and won a trust vote, as directed by the Supreme Court.

“This High Command culture of the Congress that will decide everything and not leave key decisions with state units has boomeranged badly. Also, look at how the BJP has rewarded those who left the Congress. Himanta Biswa Sharma is a CM, Jyotiraditya Scindia is the civil aviation minister. Ashok Chavan got a Rajya Sabha berth,” said Achirangshu Acharya, professor of economics at ViswaBharati.

“But we also have to acknowledge the political aggressiveness of the BJP and the sheer audacity to achieve the near-impossible tasks,” said Acharya.

This year the BJP fielded two extra candidates in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively and fought against all the odds to secure the victory of both candidates.

The most sensational victory came in Himachal Pradesh where the ruling Congress, which had the support of 43 MLAs in the assembly, was certain to win the seat, leaving both Congress candidate Abhishek Singhvi and BJP’s Harsh Mahajan with 34 votes each.

In the draw of the lots, Mahajan got lucky.

BJP’s national spokesperson Tuhin Sinha argued to media on Wednesday that “The Congress is unable to manage its government in states.” Congress leadership knew this would happen.

Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “shamelessly trying to destabilize the government elected by the people of the state.”

“He feels that by doing this he is troubling the Congress. But this is actually an insult to the people of Himachal Pradesh, who have chosen the Congress Party to serve them. The people of the state are with us. The people of Himachal Pradesh will give a befitting reply to this insult in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Ramesh posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in a post on X wrote, “… The way BJP is using government security and machinery for this purpose is unprecedented in the history of the country. If a party with 25 MLAs is challenging the majority of 43 MLAs, then it clearly means that it is dependent on horse-trading of representatives.”

“This attitude of theirs is unethical and unconstitutional. The people of Himachal and the country are watching everything. The BJP, which did not stand with the people of the state during the natural disaster, now wants to push the state into political disaster,” she added.

While the Himachal Pradesh government has managed to avert an imminent crisis, not all Congress governments have been able to manage it.

In 2018, the Congress formed the government in Madhya Pradesh but in two years, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia along with 26 party MLAs left the Congress and the BJP returned to power.

A senior Congress leader admitted that “there is a problem in handling crisis situation.”

“The BJP had announced its candidate in Himachal Pradesh on February 15. We had 12 days in hand. But we still couldn’t avert the crisis,” the leader said.

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