Jyotiraditya Scindia’s departure from Congress was a substantive blow to party’s aspirations and hopes in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The rather unceremonious leaving of a senior leader of stature like Scindia was bound to create ripples across party-lines. The intermittent shockwaves were in the form of 22 MLA’s deserting Congress and by all means turning towards the BJP fold. With the coveted Rajya Sabha elections on the cards, Congress was hoping to salvage its face and pride, but as it turns out, the grand old party has been ghosted by its trusted allies.
The elections to 55 Rajya Sabha seats spread across 17 states are scheduled for March 26 and the results will be announced the same day. The last date of filing nominations is today i.e March 13. The Congress which was upbeat before the Madhya Pradesh midnight debacle for securing considerable seats in the upper house of parliament has been left with a sour taste of betrayal. The three trusted allies have turned down Congress’s requests to support the party in their bastions. The party had urged DMK in Tamil Nadu, JMM in Jharkhand and RJD in Bihar for support so that it could field candidates despite lacking the numbers.
It is interesting to note that elections in Bihar are scheduled for later this year and RJD and Congress have been thick as thieves for quite some time now, yet, Lalu Prasad Yadav, currently admitted in RIMS hospital, Ranchi, refused to cede an inch and give his support to Congress.
All three parties turned down the requests and Congress would now have to churn up its own numbers and make do with what it has got across state assemblies. A calculation suggests that Congress can win eight seats if it can keep its flock together. Since MPs to the upper house are elected by MLAs, the political party with more MLAs, naturally, picks up more seats. In case of Madhya Pradesh, the loss of over 20 MLAs, and possibly the state government can cost Congress the second seat that it was in a position to win in Bhopal.
Out of the 55 seats going to polls, the BJP currently occupies 18 and the Congress 11. Out of seats for which elections will be held, seven are in Maharashtra, six in Tamil Nadu, five each in West Bengal and Bihar, four each in Odisha, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two each in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Jharkhand and one each in Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.
As if losing the support of allies was not enough for Congress, Shiv Sena, the alliance partner in Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra rubbed salt into Congress’ wounds. Through an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Uddhav Thackeray led party slammed the Congress for failing to address the concerns of its youth leaders.
“When seniors fail, the young leadership should be encouraged. This is not happening and that is why (Rajasthan deputy chief minister) Sachin Pilot and Gehlot are at loggerheads. If the matter is not resolved, it is believed that Rajasthan may go the Madhya Pradesh way,” the editorial piece noted. Referring to the ongoing power tussle in Madhya Pradesh, the Shiv Sena said that even though veteran Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are running the show in Madhya Pradesh Congress, the grand old party had committed a mistake by neglecting a senior leader like Scindia.
Congress thought it had hit purple patch by webbing together government in MP but the inexcusable way in which it treated Scindia diminished the returns. The rap on the knuckle by allies and a scathing attack by Shiv Sena has only compounded the misery for country’s oldest party. Things are looking look bleak at the moment for Congress and unfortunately it does not have any plan-B in the offing either.