New Delhi: The Congress was elated at its victories in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, extremely slender in the last two, but Friday came with a massive dampener as the Supreme Court snubbed all petitions that alleged discrepancies in the acquisition process of Rafale jets, turning down all pleas for a court-monitored probe.
Meanwhile, the verdict came as a shot in the arm of the BJP that is still in the process of mulling over the ramifications of the states’ losses. Its stand on Rafale was vindicated. The insinuations on Prime Minister Modi as the hidden hand behind big capital represented by Anil Ambani were laid to rest.

MyNation takes a deep dive into what could be the political spin-offs of this verdict for the Congress, the BJP and the overall politics leading up to 2019 polls

  1. The BJP indubitably in high spirits, its defeats, albeit not debacles, in the states having been offset by the Supreme Court verdict that declared there were no occasions of procedural lapses. The public image of the party would improve by miles, not that the Rafale controversy had dented it in any considerable measure. But public perceptions matter and there the SC verdict is a curveball straight into the Congress goal.
  2. Conversely, the Congress, especially its chief Rahul Gandhi, does not look good in the wake of the verdict. The Congress had gone to town to convert the Rafale question, at least, into the talk of the town, to create, in the least, a suspicion over the Modi government, which had come to power against the massive corruption of UPA. The BJP is surely in a mood to talk to the people directly and impress on the voters the negative politics of Gandhi based on lies.
  3. Moreover, the advantage that the Congress had gathered with the states’ wins, which were more of a negative vote against the BJP than a positive vote for the Congress, now stands dissipated. The centrepiece of its attacks against the Modi regime has been demolished by SC.
  4. Minus Rafale, the Congress would appear just as directionless in its opposition to the BJP as before the controversy was invented and stoked in public. Simply put, it has nothing to attack the government over. Much time has elapsed since demonetisation, if at all hurtful to a small section of the voters, and it is as dead and gone as the done and dusted GST regime that has expanded the tax base and is doing well.
  5. Allegations of corruption were thrown on the BJP, but with the wind out of its sails, the BJP shall turn the public eye in the direction of Robert Vadra’s land deals.
  6. The yet-to-sing-like-canary AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel is now an India guest. In all probability, he shall start to unveil his secrets soon and they could be super embarrassing to the Gandhis.
  7. With Rafale a non-issue now, the Modi regime will garner public aplomb, Vijay Mallya and Michel as two notches on its belt. Super diplomacy and strict action against corruption.
  8. The Rafale disaster for the Congress also means that its own camp could come loose. Also, allies in the mahagathbandhan are now better placed to scuttle any prime ministerial ambitions of Rahul Gandhi. While Congress’s claims to the leadership of the grand alliance came close to being unquestioned after the wins in the states, the party is back to square one with its politics inside the mahagathbandhan.
  9. The verdict now also gives the BJP with enough ammunition to personally attack and destroy Rahul Gandhi’s credibility. While a section of the Indian public had come close to taking him seriously after the victories in the states — the BJP was having some trouble coming to terms with it — the BJP would point to the SC verdict as vindication of its argument that the Gandhi scion was not mature yet to hold the reins of the nation.
  10. Congress leaders, such as Randeep Surjewala and Jyotiraditya Scindia, gave ample signs that they would try to keep the matter alive. It was alive in the people’s court, said Scindia. Surjewala said SC was not the platform, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee. But, just as they had calculated that repeating the Rafale verse day in and day out, would impart it come semblance of truth, they must consider that Indian people still trust the higher courts more than its politicians. It was this very public sentiment that had embarrassed this government when four SC justices had come out against ex-CJI Deepak Misra. The more the Congress now repeats Rafale, the more it will undercut its own credit with the people of India. All the more, when the current CJI was one of the four justices back then.