India’s main opposition party Congress suffered another jolt after failing to secure four out of five states in elections, as the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected its petition to stay the swearing-in of the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Goa.
In its petition, Congress, which emerged as the single largest party in the Goa assembly elections, argued that the state governor should have followed the rules and invited it to form government and later prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.
But the governor acted in a partisan way by asking the BJP to form the government, the petitioner said.
The top court, which heard the case on Tuesday, asked Congress why it failed to list the lawmakers supporting it in the petition.
Moreover, the party could have protested before the state governor and convince her by presenting the list of supporters.
The Supreme Court said BJP leader and former defense minister Manohar Parrikar can take the oath of office as planned on Tuesday evening.
Parrikar should, however, prove his party’s majority on the floor of the assembly within 48 hours instead of 15 days as directed earlier by the state governor.
Congress, which also emerged as the largest single party in the north-eastern state of Manipur, is questioning the right of the BJP to form a coalition government there with the support of regional parties.
Its party vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, told journalists outside parliament on Tuesday that the BJP is using money power to steal the mandate in Goa and Manipur.
Congress did well in assembly elections by winning in Punjab and putting itself in an apparently winning position in Goa and Manipur although it lost in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Gandhi said that in elections, there are ups and downs, hence it is wrong to say the party performed badly.
While refusing to own up to the poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh, where Congress secured only 6.2% of the vote, he admitted that the party is going downhill and it needs structural changes to stop itself from slipping further.
As a leader, he said, he trusts regional party leaders and wants to give them more freedom. Such a view is not favoured by some senior party leaders who want a strong centralized leadership.
Responding to the Supreme Court ruling, a leading Congress member, Renuka Choudhury, said party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who negotiated with Goa lawmakers on the local government formation, should be removed from his post.
Another senior leader, Sheila Dikshit, said Congress should shed its feudalistic image and its members should share the blame for the party’s defeat in Uttar Pradesh.