BJP appropriates Cong's "stability" | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

BJP appropriates Cong's "stability"

PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
May 03, 2004 02:33 PM IST

A decade ago, the Congress party used to brag about being the only party in India that could provide a stable and experienced government, unlike all others.

A decade ago, the Congress party used to brag about being the only party in India that could provide a stable and experienced government, unlike all others.

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Today, the tables have turned.

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The Congress' pet boast has been stolen by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee urging voters while campaigning in the general election to return him to power for stability.

Not only does he deride the Congress for its inability to provide political stability any more but also accuses the party of throwing the country in turmoil by pulling down successive coalition governments during 1996-98.

"The Congress is not what it used to be before independence and after, it should realise that," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar. "The BJP-led coalition has completed its term, giving the people of India their first taste of a stable government in years."

The Congress, which ruled India continuously and unchallenged for four decades after independence in 1947, is not amused. "If you cannot complete your full term and push the country to elections so much in advance, then where is the stability?" asked Congress leader Salman Khurshid.

"Do you not have the confidence of completing a full term and then winning the people's mandate? The BJP can hardly talk about stability."

The Congress also points out that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has always functioned under the threat of allies leaving the ship, so much that what was a 24-party coalition in 1999 is a grouping of just a dozen parties.

But the comparisons do not end here for the BJP, which is currently trying to quell speculation of its expected losses in exit polls conducted after three rounds of voting in half of India.

With the exit poll predictions of a hung house inspiring a divided opposition into action to explore alternatives to the NDA, Vajpayee invoked a period in the past when governments that took over from Congress crumbled due to instability.

Referring to the 1977 election that brought the Janata Party government into power after unseating former prime minister Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee said the first non-Congress government disintegrated due to squabbling.

"The Janata leaders started fighting with each other for the post of prime minister - a similar situation is happening today," said Vajapyee, implying that anyone taking over from BJP-led NDA could end up the same way.

Said BJP's Javdekar: "The opposition is already so divided. There are so many prime ministerial candidates. How will they form a government?"

The BJP pats itself for finally coming to a stable state after many a hits and misses. The party came to power for the second time in 1998 at the head of a coalition.

Political observers see a big difference in the two parties' claims. While the Congress enjoyed single-party rule for many years, the BJP learnt to balance its boat of two dozen parties.

"Today coalitions are an imperative, and in that situation the BJP seems better equipped to provide a stable government," said analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.

"The Congress has never run a coalition, which is a big disadvantage."

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