Says Congress was prepared for defeat, but not BJP’s astonishing victory
New Delhi : PM Narendra Modi’s image as a decisive leader, of a ‘man on a white stallion’, may have clicked with the masses fed up with the perceived indecisiveness of the UPA, but Congress MP Shashi Tharoor feels his style of governance would soon bring out the ‘strengths and limitations of one-man rule’.
Tharoor also admitted that while the Congress had been “prepared for a defeat at some level” it was not prepared for the scale of the drubbing or even the BJP’s ‘truly astonishing’ victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
The two-time MP from Thiruvananthapuram said Modi’s style of governance, where he met with secretaries separately without the presence of ministers, “raises some real questions about the entire principle of cabinet accountability in our system”.
“In our system, normally the ministers are responsible for their portfolios, they are responsible not only to the PM but also parliament. When we ask questions of the minister we assume we are asking questions to somebody who had made the policies that we have questioned.”
“If we are going to be in a government in which the policies are actually made by the PM with the bureaucrats, then the very principle of cabinet accountability and parliamentary system of government gets thrown into question,” Tharoor contended.
The Congress party, in contrast, “has a very strong bench of qualified and competent leaders and policymakers, as well as an approach that is collegial and consultative in making decisions”, which he feels would regain appeal with the people.
Asked if the Congress’ stunning defeat, its poorest showing ever, could be laid at the doors of the party high command – Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice president Rahul Gandhi – Tharoor said “any one explanation would be difficult to give, there were clearly a number of factors that affected the electoral results.”
He enumerated anti-incumbency, the fuel and food price hike, which did not go down well with the people, and the ‘corruption saga’. “Local political factors that varied from place to place” also played a part in the defeat as well as Modi’s development plank.