The Congress has proverbially put its foot in the mouth by the manner in which it has gone about dealing with its ridiculous demand for impeaching Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on grounds that have no feet to stand on.
Considering that this is the first real test after Rahul Gandhi took over the reins of the party, there is deep apprehension that the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family will require mature and competent advisers to steer the ship in the turbulent run-up to the general elections next year. Failing that or by spurning sane advice, he would not only go down as a disastrous chieftain but also drag his party and its allies into the dunghill of obscurity.
That Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu has, in the space of three days, rejected the demand by 64 members of the Rajya Sabha to allow the introduction of an impeachment motion in the Upper House should be a pointer to the perceived inadequacy of grounds for such a motion. But the Congress leadership appears in no mood to give up on its monumental misadventure.
Some of the motion’s prime protagonists, notably senior lawyer and former minister Kapil Sibal and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, have already declared their intention to move the Supreme Court to challenge the Vice-President’s power to reject the impeachment motion. By doing so, the Congress and its allies would only be compounding their folly.
The overwhelming view of constitutional experts and legal luminaries indeed is that the five charges that were brought forth in the impeachment paper were shockingly inadequate, ill-substantiated and bordered on the frivolous.
The hollowness of the Congress official position is borne out by the fact that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Union ministers Chidambaram, Salman Khursheed, and Veerappa Moily, among others, have already dissociated themselves from the official line taken by the Congress.
In a party where sycophancy and subservience to the ‘high command’ has assumed endemic proportions, this incipient opposition to the party line is taboo. Yet, so brazenly and patently wrong is the party stand that some bigwigs are ready to stick their necks out and many are silently sulking.
Only the acutely myopic ones believe that the party stand would go down well with the people and bring electoral dividends. The likes of Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad have always had a huge question mark over their credibility.
It was political expediency that kept the NDA’s bitter critics ---the DMK, the Trinamool Congress and now the Telugu Desam--- not to fall in line with the Congress in supporting the impeachment plea. But it is enigmatic how the likes of Sharad Pawar of NCP, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP made common cause with the Congress in such a disastrous move.
That the BJP was rapidly losing ground before the CJI impeachment move was for everyone to see. Almost by default, the Congress seemed to be reaping rewards, though it was not by any stretch of imagination knocking at the doors of power just yet. The BJP bigwigs would doubtlessly be grinning from ear to ear at this virtual bonus opportunity to recover lost ground.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu could well have put off a decision on the seven-party petition because there was no time limit prescribed for his decision on the admissibility of the impeachment motion. That he has opted to reveal his decision speedily is an index of the overwhelming advice he got from constitutional experts and legal luminaries.
It is just as well that the speed of his action has hastened the process of finality being reached. Predictably, the apex court will also act with alacrity so that the normal business of the court can go on without impediment.
The legality of it may be settled quickly but the politics of it would, unfortunately, linger on. The ill-conceived move would have repercussions even in the impending State assembly elections in Karnataka and a little later in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh which are BJP bastions looking ready to be breached by the Congress.