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BW Businessworld

The End Of The Road For The Congress?

46 year-old Rahul Gandhi is expected to be elevated to party chief someday

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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The BJP, and its supreme leader PM Narendra Modi, want a “Congress-mukt Bharat”. The joke in BJP circles is that the impending promotion of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to party chief, will make the BJP’s job a lot easier. The BJP managers also claim that “Rahul would realise Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of winding up the Congress”.

Is the BJP’s claim exaggerated? Political spokespersons have a predilection for hyberboles. Consider this: Since its ignominious defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has lost almost every election – be it at the civic or State level. It lost the State elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and Assam.

It received a major drubbing at the local polls in Gujarat, Faridabad and Chandigarh. Astonishingly, the Congress was pushed to the third place in a former bastion, Odisha.

Even in the just concluded local polls in Maharashtra, the Congress got reduced to a party that “also-ran” for seats in the legislature. Every time the BJP occupied the space vacated by the Congress. When asked about its ignominious defeat in Maharashtra, senior Congress spokesperson, Satyavrat Chaturvedi told BW Businessworld that “he was shocked by the margin of the defeat, and that a weak organisation was to blame for this”.

The desperation in the ranks of the Congress, was evident when it held back-channel talks with the Shiv Sena to halt the BJP’s march in the State. In Odisha’s poorest districts like Kalahandi, the Congress was virtually wiped out, with a resurgent BJP capturing all the seats.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the people of the State, especially the poor, had rallied behind PM Modi’s demonetisation, and drives like “toilets for every home” and LPG cylinders for the poorest.

The story is just not limited to Odisha and Maharashtra. In States like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has to depend on regional parties for its survival. In States like West Bengal and Tripura, the BJP is pushing the Congress to the fringes.

Senior Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said that local elections are fought on local issues, so not much should be read into the recent election results, and that the Congress would live to tell its revival story and the tables may turn as early as in the polls in March.


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Magazine 08 March 2017 rahul gandhi congress economy india