Chopper scam vs Save Democracy: Will Sonia Gandhi upset BJP's applecart?

PTI5_6_2016_000102A Congress President Sonia Gandhi arrive at the 'Save Democracy' rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Friday | PTI

The recent political developments have caused a great deal of inconvenience to the Congress and its leaders in the ongoing Parliament session and has forced the party to change its course of action in dealing with a spirited BJP even as it is battling serious allegations of corruption.

The Congress was all set to take on the BJP in the winter session over the issues of President's rule in Uttarakhand, drought and farmers' suicide. While the BJP leaders were putting their best defence to take the Opposition head on, an Italian court judgement provided the government with fresh ammunition to target the Congress.

A Milan court convicted top officials of Finmeccanica, Agustawestland's parent company, for bribing decision makers in the Indian government to bag the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal. The verdict has revived the scam, which had hitherto faded away in the whirlpool of other political issues in the country.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's jagged arguments against Congress in the Rajya Sabha was hurting the party besides forcing the Congress to re-think of its political strategy.

The new strategy was 'Save Democracy' protest, which has seemingly helped the Congress in boosting the morale of its members. The party's heavyweights led the protest rally on Friday to put the focus back on the Centre's intervention in politics of Congress-led states.

Sonia, party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh among other top guns led the march from Jantar Mantar to Parliament House. When they were stopped by the security, the leaders courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station. They were detained for some time and later released.

At the time when everything seems to be going downhill for the Congress, its party chief Sonia Gandhi has taken the frontline. She took on the Modi government, accusing of its hand in ousting the Congress governments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.

"Do not try to frighten or defame us... life has taught me to struggle, we have faced a lot of challenges. They don't know what we are made of," she said on Friday at Jantar Mantar during Save Democracy' rally.

"They should understand very well that when matters would become unbearable, people of India know how to teach them a lesson.... The way the Modi government is playing a fraud on the mandate, it seems its days are numbered," the Congress president said.

"But, I would like to tell them they should not commit the mistake of assuming that Congress is a weak force. Congress is never going to bow before injustice. We will play our role of an alert opposition with full vigour in coming days, (both) within Parliament and outside too and combat injustice," she said.

She alleged that the Modi government has “murdered the democracy” by using “money and muscle power” to dislodge elected governments.

The Friday protest march has provided an opportunity for the Congress to draw some attention away from the chopper scam and to force the BJP to engage it in the newly opened frontline.

Sonia leading the charge against the government has rendered her party fruitful in the past. She took up the issue of land acquisition bill last year and spearheaded the protests with the support of opposition leaders. The high-voltage political move, forced the government to drop the proposed bill, giving some political points to the Congress.

However, it remains to be seen whether, Sonia will be able to upset the BJP's applecart, again?

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