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From MP, lessons for the two national parties – editorials


Kamal Nath’s decision to resign as prime minister of Madhya Pradesh, before facing the vote of confidence in the assembly, closes the curtains on the 15-month mandate of Congress in the state. Once it became clear that the party had lost the support of about two dozen members of the Legislative Assembly, following the decision of Chief Leader Jyotiraditya Scindia to switch to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Nath appears to have calculated that resignation, and project itself as a martyr, can be politically more prudent.

There are two clear messages from the entire episode. The first is that Congress not only faces a credibility crisis with the electorate, but it fails to win the polls, particularly at the national level. It also faces an internal crisis, where central leadership is weak, state-level factionalism is rampant, and incentives for legislators to remain in the party are limited. As political scientist Gilles Verniers pointed out, Congress has been successively losing states despite having the largest number of legislators in an assembly. In Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, he was unable to form the government; in Karnataka, its lawmakers deserted, paving the way for a BJP government last year. And now, the loss of MP represents a major setback at heart. The party must make a serious review of its defects.

The second message refers to the BJP. At MP, he had lost by a narrow margin and was waiting for the opportunity to return. But in this term, the BJP will have a more difficult time, both in terms of political management and governance. It has to accommodate defectors from Congress; This, in turn, will cause resentment among veterans. You will also need to immediately manage the outbreak of coronavirus disease. The episode reveals his hunger for power, but also raises questions about the political legitimacy of forming a government in this way. To compensate for this, the BJP has to achieve legitimacy through its performance.

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