Congress is just learning the hard way that if they don’t perform, nobody, not even their so-called ‘allies’ will support them just on the basis of the rich Nehru-Gandhi legacy. One of their biggest regional allies, DMK who recently won 23 seats in the Lok Sabha in the state of Tamil Nadu, has refused to give a Rajya Sabha seat to Congress candidate and erstwhile Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Last month, elections to 6 seats in the Rajya Sabha had been announced by the Election Commission. The elections will take place on July 18th. In this, the ruling AIADMK and the opposition, DMK can send in 3 Rajya Sabha members each. The Congress party had anticipated this occurrence and had hoped that DMK would give one of its seats to Congress, which could be used to elect Manmohan Singh, as a part of their alliance.
However, DMK has decided to allocate one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko and has decided to contest on the remaining 2 seats. According to party president MK Stalin, party trade union leader M Shanmugam and senior advocate P Wilson are the nominees for the biennial election.
This is a big setback for Manmohan Singh. For the first time in 28 years, he has ceased to be a member of the Rajya Sabha. Elected to the parliament from Assam for 5 consecutive terms, the Congress party this time lacked the required numbers to get Manmohan Singh re-elected in the Rajya Sabha. Thus, he retired in mid-June.
Now that DMK has refused to field a Congress candidate on one of their seats, Manmohan Singh will have to wait for the 2020 biennial elections when 54 MPs are due to retire.
Though Congress is definitely dismayed at this betrayal of the DMK, it can hardly come as a surprise. The 2 allies were having issues since the results of the Lok Sabha polls were announced, in which Congress came out as an extremely weak party. No regional party would want to ally with a weak national party and this is exactly what is going on in DMK’s mind. One DMK leader even stated, “If we are to be of use to the people, we should contest the local body election alone. How long can we remain the palanquin bearers? We have been doing so for long.”
The Congress over its continually declining popularity has been under pressure from its allies over seat sharing agreements. While Congress party still retains its delusion of grandeur, the regional leaders seem to have noted the new direction of winds indicting Congress’ irrelevance and are calling for their fair share of seats. This decision to not give the Congress a Rajya Sabha seat, even if it was for one of their most respected leaders, indicates just how far the regional parties are willing to carry the ‘Congress tag’ which is more along the lines of ‘Congress burden’.