New Delhi, Sept. 23: The Congress feels that numerical constraints will tie the government’s hands on economic reforms and the party should, with Rahul Gandhi’s ascendance in the organisation, focus on reinventing its “pro-people” rhetoric.
The Congress has hailed the Prime Minister’s burst of decisions but knows that such decisions will now be largely confined to subjects that do not require legislation.
The government won’t be able to get controversial bills passed in Parliament as Trinamul’s exit has made the UPA numerically vulnerable in the Lok Sabha, too. Although the government is safe as the BSP and the Left do not want early elections, it will have a miserable time in Parliament. Pushing tricky bills will invite avoidable risks.
Mulayam Singh Yadav has assured support to the government only because he knows it is not falling. The Congress knows Mulayam will hit hard the day the BSP and the Left change their minds on early polls.
Many Congress leaders feel that tough economic measures, though necessary, cannot bolster electoral fortunes. They recalled how the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, which kick-started liberalisation, brought electoral misery to the Congress and hoped bread-and-butter issues would return soon to dominate the discourse.
“Rahul Gandhi will soon take over the reins of the party and reiterate its commitment to the welfare of the weaker sections, farmers and the working class,” a cabinet minister told The Telegraph.
“The MNREGA (rural job guarantee scheme) and other pro-poor schemes under Bharat Nirman helped us establish Sonia Gandhi’s credentials as a leader who cares for the masses. Rahulji will soon articulate his priorities for the government.
“The food security bill, land bill, direct transfer of subsidy to the beneficiary: these are some of the thrust areas. Under the Right to Education Act, we will have to appoint 12 lakh teachers. Rahulji will obviously take up these issues.”
The minister’s comments and the high-decibel campaign by the government’s rivals — such as Mamata Banerjee, the Left and the BJP — over the past week suggest the country is headed for a phase of intense posturing to establish each player’s pro-people credentials.
There is a plan to formally designate Rahul as the party’s number two and indicate he would be the functional head. Although most Congress strategists do not want to disinvest in Sonia, convinced that she still is the most potent political force in the country, a decision has been taken to project Rahul as the future leader.