When the monsoon session of Parliament began, the Congress was expected to lead the opposition and bring the government to its knees on the issue of corruption. But with just two days remaining in the session, it now seems that the party's demands for the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje have lost their sheen, and also left it alienated.
Here are five reasons why Congress seems to have lost its plot.
1. No support from other opposition parties
Most parties backed it when 25 Congress MPs were suspended by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. But soon opposition parties like RJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party realised that their support of the Congress was giving Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi undue advantage. While the Congress leaders took the limelight, leaders of other opposition parties were not able to raise issues that would appeal to their vote banks.
Eventually, Mulayam Singh Yadav made a clear statement: "Enough is enough. We will not support Congress protests any longer." The RJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi parties decided to focus on their own agendas and sought an adjournment motion on the caste census that has been held back by the government - an issue that is more relevant to the three parties, given that caste calculations will be a major factor in the Bihar elections.
2. Frustration among the industrialists
Policy paralysis during the UPA's tenure was India Inc's major complaint. The sense of disillusionment continues, as major industrialists signed a petition on Change.org, urging the opposition to let Parliament function.
The petition has been signed by industry leaders such as Rahul Bajaj, Infosys founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Pawan Munjal of Hero MotoCorp, Adi Godrej, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, GVK's GV Sanjaya Reddy and GE India head Banmali Agrawala.
Such a large scale convergence of business heads reflects the frustration in the industrial private sector, which wants major economic reforms. including GST, to be implemented.
Without naming the Congress, the petition shows that India Inc. would like the opposition to devise more conciliatory tactics. "Parliamentary paralysis can lead to weakening of India's democracy. There is a spread of political power between the opposition and the government in Indian Parliament. Both have an important role to play. Both have responsibility to discuss and resolve political issues. Political consensus represents the best practice in Indian democracy," reads the petition.
3. Rahul's issue-hopping spree
After Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi returned from his two month vacation, he displayed a renewed vigour in his public appearances. But in the second half of Parliament's monsoon session, Gandhi seemed clueless about his party's exact objective.
Demands like "Parliament will function only if Swaraj resigns" and "Debate on Lalit row in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi" seem to show that his only objective is to stall Parliament on any possible grounds.
Not once did he make a strong argument on the floor of the house. Even outside Parliament, barring a few provocative statements, the Gandhi scion failed to make a well-articulated justification for the Congress to continue protesting. From the larger issue of corruption and propriety, Rahul receded to making a personal attack on Sushma Swaraj by questioning the amount of money her family members got from Lalit Modi.
His monsoon session trajectory is also dotted with other issues. He went to FTII amid much fanfare to support the students' demand for Gajendra Chouhan's resignation. He even promised them that he would take up the issue in Parliament. But that never happened. Then suddenly, he charged the BJP with not giving special status to Andhra Pradesh, but again without any consequence.
4. No comparison between Lalit row and 2G, CWG and coal scams
Congress' argument that the politics of disruption was started by the BJP falls completely flat. While Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj must be questioned for why she helped a fugitive, this issue is no match for the scams that took place during the UPA tenure. Irregularities in the allotment of coal mines caused a notional loss of Rs 1.76 trillion to the exchequer. The 2G scam allegedly caused a loss worth Rs 846 crore to the exchequer. These were massive scams.
But an entire session being washed out on charges of impropriety when several key bills are pending is not justified.
5. Internal conflict within the Congress
It started with Shashi Tharoor telling the media that he didn't support Congress's stalling tactics. Sonia Gandhi apparently blasted him at an internal party meet. Later, it emerged other Congress leaders also did not see much meaning in continuing the stalemate. With conflict within the party, it seems the party is fighting a lost cause just to satisfy the egos of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.