If exit polls were anything to go by, Congress’ results paint a tragic picture for the party, which was posing as frontrunner for the anti-BJP alliance at the Centre
Rahul Gandhi fought his first election as the President of the Grand Old Party in late 2017. Assembly elections were being held in Gujarat in November-December 2017, and Rahul Gandhi was seen campaigning extensively across the state.
Although Rahul couldn’t wrest their bastion from the BJP, he did manage to abridge the victory margin, landing just 22 seats short of the BJP, which finished at 99. He termed this a ‘moral victory’.
Come the next Assembly elections in 2018, where the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan went to polls. All three BJP bastions were wrested from the party by a resurgent Congress which surprised many. While in Chhattisgarh, the Congress was in clear majority, in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP lost by a close shave.
It was on the basis of these victories that the Congress fought the 2019 general election, holding on to the hope that Rahul Gandhi will kick the party towards a nationwide resurgence.
However, exit polls have made the mood in the Congress lobbies sombre, awarding the BJP-led NDA a thumping majority. The News18 IPSOS exit polls suggest that the UPA is set to win only around 82 seats, with the Congress getting a dismal 46, two seats more than their 2014 tally.
If exit polls were anything to go by, Congress’ results paint a tragic picture for the party, which was posing as frontrunner for the anti-BJP alliance at the Centre.
The party has lost the Hindi heartland states where they had emerged victorious just six months ago. Besides, in Karnataka, where the germ of an anti-BJP coalition was born with the Congress-JD(S) forming the government in May 2018, the Congress is looking at losing seats vis-à-vis their 2014 tally. This could ostensibly be attributed to the instability of the Congress-JD(S) combine. In all of this, the Congress’ promise of farm loan waivers seems to have lost its sheen.
In addition, Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad doesn’t seem to have borne fruit in Kerala, where the UDF is seen losing seats to the Left Democratic Front (LDF). In West Bengal too, the Grand Old Party stands decimated.
In the northern states, where the Gandhi family’s newest political member was seen campaigning for the party, the results project a certain stoicism towards her. Although Priyanka Gandhi was successful in drawing crowds, she wasn’t able to draw the votes; with Punjab being the only consolation, where the IPSOS exit polls have slated 10 seats for the Congress, a significant increase from three in the 2014 elections.Even though most Congress leaders have rejected the projections of the exit polls, they have given a drift of the political winds. In fact, politician-psephologist Yogendra Yadav has tweeted that the ‘Congress must die’ since it has failed to provide an effective anti-BJP force to ‘save the idea of India’.
The Congress must die.
If it could not stop the BJP in this election to save the idea of India, this party has no positive role in Indian history. Today it represents the single biggest obstacle to creation of an alternative.
May 19, 2019
The road ahead of the Congress is that of survival. The party needs a fresh campaign as regurgitating issues like the Rafale deal, demonetisation, Gabbar Singh Tax, jobs is not quite stirring the electorate as the party would have wanted to. Unfortunately for the party, even their flagship NYAY scheme didn’t have many takers, vis-à-vis the BJP’s focus on issues of national security.The Congress can now strive to hold their ground in states where the party is in power, and work exceptionally hard to cover more ground in the Assembly polls to come, in order for them to be nationally relevant.Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, exclusive trading recommendations, independent equity analysis, actionable investment ideas, nuanced takes on macro, corporate and policy actions, practical insights from market gurus and much more.