The position of Congress is dismal in Maharashtra and Haryana, the two states that will vote on October 21. Political analysts, commentators in media, and psephologist have predicted in one voice, that Congress party is going to lose elections, and BJP will return to power in both states.
The party is not even making attempts to give a tough fight to incumbent governments. Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar are ready to wrestle, but there is no contender from opposition.
None of the senior Congress party leaders from Maharashtra campaigned outside their constituency. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state unit Chief Balasaheb Thorat have stuck to their constituencies. Party’s national President Sonia Gandhi and star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi has also refrained from campaigning in any of the poll bound states.
When asked about the reason for the party not holding big rallies, Congress leader and former Maharshtra CM Ashok Chavan said, “What you say as absence of big leaders from the campaign across the state is actually a strategy. We have decided to strengthen our strongholds.” He also claimed that the move had been fruitful; however, no result could be seen on ground.
However, a senior Congress functionary gave a different reason behind the absence of big leaders and big rallies from party’s campaign. The party is facing fund crunch and therefore it has resorted to old style door to door campaign.
Door to door campaign was a viable option for Congress party when it had a dedicated cadre. Today, the party does not even have fraction of total volunteers of BJP or RSS. Therefore, door to door campaign by a few hundred members is very unlikely to bear any electoral dividend for the party.
So far, only Rahul Gandhi has held big rallies in the state. The party is facing serious fund crisis due to its successive electoral losses and no promise of a bright future.
Monetary resources are very important to win elections in any democratic country. The elections in India cost far less than in countries like the United States but still, money plays an important role for any political party. The amount of donation any party receives greatly influences its electoral prospects in elections. The ruling party is always at the forefront of bagging monetary contributions from the corporate sector.
But, there are ideological considerations too. A party that is more capitalist on the ideological spectrum is more likely to receive heavy donations from corporates. Therefore, a higher corporate donation to any party also suggests that winnability of that party is higher for elections.
After the dismal performance by the Congress party in 2019 general elections, the corporate donations to the party reduced drastically. Due to the scarcity of funds, the party management has asked the functionaries and many wings to reduce expenditures. Some paid workers and professionals have also been fired and many have not received salaries in the last few months.
As the party has lost power in Karnataka too, the corporate donations to the party will reduce further. The southern state has the highest GDP among the states. Karnataka is the fourth on the list of the Indian states by GDP with 15.42 lakh crore rupees (220 Billion US Dollars) gross production in 2018-19. The state’s capital – Bengaluru is headquartering of some of India’s largest corporate houses. Karnataka was like lone milking cow for the fund-starved Congress party.
Congress party is facing problems since the Modi government introduced electoral bonds. The electoral bonds were introduced to cleanse the system of political funding in the country. The fund crunch in Congress just after the nation has moved towards a transparent system is suggestive of the fact that most of its funding was through grey channels.
The corporate and individual donors back the parties with high prospects. Therefore, the reduction in funding to Congress and other opposition parties suggests that their political prospects are low in the upcoming elections. BJP alone bagged almost two-third of total funding which means that its political prospects are high in upcoming assembly elections in the state of Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jharkhand.
Lack of a determined and strong leadership is also hurting the Congress party as no industrialist would want to contribute to a lost cause. The BJP is indeed capitalizing on the lack of trust in Congress. A course correction by the Congress party is an immediate need failing which the party will never be able to recover from the shock.