India’s electorally-bruised Congress party is heading into a crisis with a section of its own members of parliament revolting against its leadership.
In a move unprecedented in Indian electoral history, six members of parliament (MPs) from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh belonging to the Congress have moved a motion of no-confidence against their own federal government.
This, in protest against the contentious move to divide their state to form a new entity, Telangana.
The six members in their notice said the Congress had lost the confidence of the people of Andhra Pradesh. They asked the allies of the Congress-led United Political Alliance (UPA) in Delhi to support their motion of no-confidence.
The action is perceived as a token gesture of defiance for at least 55 MPs are required to back the no-confidence move for it to be discussed and voted upon in parliament.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not expected to support the motion as it backs the creation of Telangana.
But the MPs revolt, which has caused a flutter in the Congress, is a signal of more crises to follow after its disastrous performance in the assembly elections.
The most serious is the undermining of the Congress leadership headed by the mother-son Gandhi duo. The Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Kiran Reddy has openly defied the central leadership of the party and is leading a rebellion against the creation of Telangana.
The diktat of the once-feared Gandhi-led caucus, euphemistically called “High Command”, does not seem to be working anymore. For, despite Reddy’s open assertions against the party’s line over the last several months, the Gandhi-led party leadership has found itself on the defensive against Reddy, fearing electoral consequences.
The latest revolt has come at a time when the Congress is at its weakest. Already stunned by its rout in elections to four state assemblies, Sonia Gandhi has called for a meeting of top party members to introspect. Her son, Rahul Gandhi, the probable prime ministerial candidate of the party, said they had a lot to learn from the dream performance of the greenhorn Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections.
Amidst this, the challenge to the Congress’s central authority is an indicator that the party is in for a rough ride in the next few months leading to the all-important national elections to the lower house of parliament by May 2014.