Congress has faced a repeat of the embarrassing defeat in the general elections. According to the tally, Congress is again set to miss out the minimum requirement of seats in the Lok Sabha to claim a stake at the post of Leader of Opposition as it fails to even open its tally in more than 20 states. These results come after the elections witnessed a power-packed campaign from across party lines, with PM Narendra Modi taking on issues of development and his robust national security stand and Congress chief focusing on claims about the Rafale deal and the overambitious and socialist NYAY scheme.
These counting trends which are likely to hold as we proceed in the counting process, have further darkened the clouds of doubts over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. Rahul Gandhi was already in the crosshairs of his opponents when Congress had lost multiple state elections following the 2014 general elections. Rahul Gandhi taking note of new development in the erstwhile family bastion Amethi had also decided to contest from Wayanad, Kerala which is being considered as a safe seat for Rahul Gandhi. Current trends also indicate that Rahul Gandhi is trailing behind Smriti Irani in Amethi, however, his attempts to save face seems to be materializing in Muslim dominated Wayanad.
Rahul Gandhi’s claims made over the Rafale deal also fell flat on face when Rahul Gandhi had to tender an unconditional apology to the apex court for attributing statements to the same which the court never made. Claims made over Rafale deal also lacked and objective appeal which also contributed to the failure of this narrative. Congress, in desperation, had also announced the over-ambitious NYAY scheme sensing lapse of their campaign strategy, however, it not only failed to answer objective questions over the feasibility of the scheme but also failed to effectively dissipate the information to the targeted electorate. The most striking example of Congress’ failure was there ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ campaign which failed to stand up to Narendra Modi’s clean image and integrity.
Congress coming past the ghastly debacle in the 2014 general elections has been failing perpetually to garner support of the public. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where Congress had managed to form the state government towards the end of 2018, Congress appears to have failed to convert the marginal support at the state level into votes for the general elections. BJP is set to do near repeat of the complete sweep form the 2014 general elections.
Congress sensing a defeat had also brought in Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to churn some political steam, but a campaign focusing on the personal aspect of Priyanka’s personality and totally dissociated from other critical issues has evidently hurt congress electoral plans. Priyanka’s failure has also exposed the built up hype around her personality by various journalists. This election which was fought on an overarching idea of politics of work and development versus dynastic politics has surely given a firm verdict rejecting the dynasticism which has plagued the Indian political system for long. Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, NCP in Maharashtra and mainly the Congress all have taken the impact of voters’ wrath against the agenda driven and caste vote bank based politics.
Congress with the current emerging trends is looking at being limited to mainly Kerala and Punjab. Congress in Maharashtra had a credible chance to put a dent in BJP’s electoral conquest however even with an alliance with Sharad Pawar’s NCP Congress has failed to deliver.
Voices against the leadership of the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family are sure to be raised as Congress continues on its downwards trend however the grand old party with its organizational structure built over past decades by the same family is sure to resist any change in the party leadership. However, if certain rouge element makes an attempt at the same they are sure to face another problem; if not the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family then who? Congress’ central leadership has been systematically dismantling any rising leaders at the state level. Recent appointments of Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath as the CMs of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over young leaders like Sachin pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia only point towards the insecurity that prevails in the minds of the top leadership of Congress.
The Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family had been a central connecting point between the various smaller political families that exist in the Congress’ organization at various state levels. Congress with its complex issues is set to be at a disadvantage in any of the scenario that plays out. If the organization gathers the courage to dislodge the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family from the top, dearth of relatively credible and mass leaders will surely prove to be a major roadblock in its revival on the other hand if the family stays at the apex the downfall of the grand old party fast or slow is evidently sure.