Opposition in peril as BJP moves in for the kill

BJP Working President JP Nadda with Goa CM Pramod Sawant and Goa Congress MLAs on Thursday. PTI

As Congress members were seething in Parliament over the turmoil in Karnataka, where 16 MLAs of the ruling coalition have resigned, the crisis-hit party was in for another jolt.

Ten of the 15 Congress MLAs from Goa formally joined the BJP in the national capital, in a double whammy for the party, which has been imploding after Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president following the hammering it received in the Lok Sabha polls.

Shaken by the developments, Congress’ Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma had this to say. “The issue is that they are trying to topple the government in Karnataka. In Goa, they are in power, so what is the need to do this,” asked Sharma.

While Sharma railed against the BJP, the saffron party released a photograph of smiling Congress MLAs in presence of Nadda, who was being offered a bouquet of flowers: as the BJP blooms, the Congress withers.

More than a month after the BJP stormed to power at the Centre, the saffron party doesn’t seem to be taking it easy. Going by the developments, it is evident that an emboldened BJP is going for the opposition’s jugular, aiming to decimate whatever is left of the Gandhi-less Congress and the battered opposition. 

It is not just the Congress that is under peril; regional parties such as the JD(S), TDP, TMC are all on the BJP’s radar. And the BJP’s way of getting the job done? Engineer two-third defections to escape provisions of the anti-defection law; examples of the strategy have been on display in Goa and Andhra Pradesh.

After the LS polls, former NDA ally Chandrababu Naidu, who had parted ways from the BJP and was in forefront galvanising the opposition against the Modi government, was dealt a shock on June 20 when the BJP inducted four of its six Rajya Sabha MPs within its fold.

Naidu’s party could take no action against the deserting MPs as four of them together crossed the two-third limit of the total strength. Similar is the case of Goa, where the Congress is raving and ranting but can do little to check the crossover of MLAs.

Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool was another victim. In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cautioned Mamata, saying 40 of her MLAs were in touch with the BJP.

That warning came true in the last week of May when Subhrangshu, son of Mamata’s once right-hand man Mukul Roy, along with two state MLAs and 50 corporators joined the BJP. The defections from the TMC to the BJP has continued since then in periodic intervals.

The development in Goa has some similarity with what had happened in Arunachal Pradesh in 2016 but on a bigger scale. In the north-eastern state, 43 of 44 Congress MLAs, including Chief Minister Pema Khandu, deserted the parent party and joined the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA). The PPA was part of the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).

The Congress had then also pinned the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, describing Khandu’s new government as “illegitimate child” of the BJP. The saffron party, however, maintained that the Congress was a sinking ship and hence facing desertions.

Interestingly, the Congress is not only under siege from the BJP but also from belligerent regional parties such as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Immediately after the Lok Sabha election, 12 of the party’s 18 MLAs in Telangana quit the party and merged their group with the ruling TRS. As the 12 made up two-thirds of the 18 MLAs, the Congress squirmed in frustration but could do nothing to halt the defections.

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