South India, which used to sustain Congress’ losses in the Hindi belt since post-Mandal/Kamandal politics emerged, has become Congress-mukt with the fall of the government in the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
Since the 1990s, caste-based political parties (known as Madal parties because they emerged on the national scene after the recommendation of the Mandal Commission was implemented) emerged as the dominant political force in Hindi belt states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana. BJP, which tried to counter the Mandal politics with Hindutva, also rose exponentially in the last three decades and is the dominant force in Northern India today.
Congress, which was slowly wiped out from the Hindi-belt, sustained on the strength of its presence in South India. Except for Tamil Nadu (where it is the junior partner of DMK), the grand old party had a powerful presence in all the states and UTs – Kerala, Karnataka, united Andhra Pradesh, and Pondicherry.
However, in the last few years, the party declined in all these states. In Kerala, the party is surviving under the shadow of the Indian Union Muslim League, and given the exponential rise of the Islamic party, it will soon gulp down the Congress. Moreover, the humiliating performance of the party in Kerala local body elections shows that it has no chance of coming back to power in the 2021 assembly election either.
In Karnataka, the party has been reduced to a beta version of its former self, with DK Shivakumar as the only man who has the courage to fight. Even JD(S) has been able to put itself better than Congress. In the 2019 general election, Congress won only 1 seat out of 28 while JD(S) won 2, and the rest went to the BJP. Given the popularity of Yediyurappa, who is holding the fort at the age of 77, Congress has no chance even in the next assembly election.
In Telangana, Congress was expecting to be a major force because it initiated the process of the separation of the state of Andhra Pradesh on the basis of the long-held demand by the people of the state. However, K. Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samiti emerged as the dominant force, taking all the credit for the creation of the separate state. Congress was playing the role of the opposition, and now BJP is sidelining it from even that position if Hyderabad municipal elections are any indication. So, the party has no future left in Telangana either.
Andhra Pradesh, the state where Congress ruled for more than 55 years out of seven decades since independence, is now turning out to be like Tamil Nadu, with Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSRCP and Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party on respective ends. Although BJP is trying to make a dent in TDP’s voter base but has got little success so far and Congress has been completely wiped out.
Pondicherry, the UT which has been left as the sole bastion of the Congress party, has fallen just a few days after the visit of Rahul Gandhi, the leader who has done more damage to the party than the opposition. With the fall of Congress government in Pondicherry, South India, which cushioned Congress’s diminishing presence in North India, has become Congress-mukt. And, this suggests that the grand old party has very few years left in Indian polity.