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Is Congress on a ventilator ?

Leaving aside Telangana, the election results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have not written any new story this time.

Niraj Krishna

On Earth, there is a time for everyone’s rise and fall, be it a nation, an individual, a society, or a party. These are factors dependent on changing circumstances, like a shadow that is here in the morning, there in the afternoon, and somewhere else in the evening. Rise and fall depend on possible situations. There was a time when no one knew about the BJP, but today, the BJP is on everyone’s mind.

Congress also had a time of rise, now times have changed, and it is a time of decline. However, it is certainly not right to say or believe that its decline will be constant. With time, a new face can emerge in Congress that can successfully lift it from its current situation; anything is possible. The BJP, too, after a long struggle, or one could say after nearly 35 years of rigorous perseverance, has reached this position. In contrast, Congress, after ruling the country for such a long time, has lost its public support. There is no doubt that if it searches for its ground again and is successful in reaching the people, Congress can also become strong again.

Currently, Congress is on a ventilator due to its leaders like Digvijay Singh, Sam Pitroda, P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, and their inappropriate statements. Otherwise, it’s not that they don’t have good leaders. Congress leaders have become like a horse without reins, which comes forward, speaks, and then the BJP, waving the flag of nationalism, takes advantage of it.

Telangana is a state where the rise of the Congress in such a manner could not have been imagined just a few months ago. Leaving aside Telangana, the election results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have not written any new story this time. This is a continuous trend in the entire Hindi belt for the past decade, marking a strong journey of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The oldest party, Congress, seems sluggish, almost as if frozen. The Congress’s biggest failure is its inability to counter the BJP’s propaganda, to create a credible, united narrative. The party only responds with criticism and does not provide any constructive alternative on any issue. The ongoing crisis in the Congress is no longer hidden from anyone.

The central leadership of the party is entangled in a power struggle between Sonia Gandhi’s old leaders and Rahul’s team. From a little intervention in local matters, state units have become fiefdoms of regional satraps where there is no strong leader, and there is internal discord on a large scale. The party president seems to be just a symbol. Its top leadership remains lost in its own world, while the rest of the organization has no direction or plan. The party binds itself in a strange bond: it cannot see beyond the Gandhi family for leadership, and in return, they are incapable of providing leadership. In the past few decades, the unfortunate part for the Congress has been that wherever it becomes the third-largest party in a state, it fails to become the second-largest thereafter.

Due to the party’s reluctance to get involved in the ‘First Family’ party matters and the failure to take any initiative, a crisis has arisen. Perhaps the Gandhi siblings are still not aware that the question is no longer just about saving the party, but also about keeping themselves relevant. The chances of gaining power at the center seem bleak, and the party’s influence is diminishing due to being in power in only a few states. Rahul Gandhi’s defeat in the family stronghold of Amethi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has further intensified the situation, and now Rae Bareli could also slip from their grasp.

In times when central leadership is proving to be consistently unsuccessful, the only way for the Congress to make itself relevant again is to strengthen its presence through the active participation of its regional leaders in the states. The decisive defeat suffered by the Congress party in the assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh is being seen as a significant blow to the party and its national leadership. However, the major reason for this defeat is the presence of such stalwart leaders in these states who were so confident of their own victory from the beginning that they paid little attention to party directives, from ticket distribution to party campaign.

The high command continued to suggest and advise based on internal surveys in all three states, recommending the issuance of tickets to a large number of existing legislators and ministers. However, these suggestions were not given much attention. Instead, a defiant stance was taken, asserting that those being given tickets would win on their own merit.

Ultimately, this overconfidence proved to be their downfall. Of all the states, only Telangana remained where the Congress party achieved success. The reason for this success was the absence of any such stalwart in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Consequently, the party reluctantly accepted the leadership in Telangana as stated by the high command. In Telangana, the party benefited from collectively contesting the elections.

In the elections of five states, Madhya Pradesh was the only state where the Congress party was confident of a significant victory, but the result turned out to be the opposite. There, it had to witness the biggest defeat. One major reason for this was the attitude of Kamal Nath. During the elections, he was not listening to anyone. He had openly dismissed the electoral alliance with the Samajwadi Party on some seats. Along with that, at the last moment, he canceled the proposed rally of the opposition coalition in the state. The party had suggested to him to field candidates for at least 40 to 50 seats based on the survey, but he did not agree. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress has become synonymous with Kamal Nath’s Congress

In Rajasthan, the tradition of changing power every five years has been ongoing for three decades. Despite all the claims of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, this tradition persisted, and the BJP returned to power. Despite all the claims and populist promises of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the people of Rajasthan voted wholeheartedly for the BJP. A significant reason for the Congress’s defeat in Rajasthan was internal discord within the party. The fight between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot became a topic of discussion across the country, with both leaders focusing more on their internal rivalry than on their actual work. Many times, Gehlot publicly called Sachin Pilot incompetent and a traitor.

The arrogance of CM Ashok Gehlot was also a reason for the Congress’s defeat in Rajasthan. His excessive self-confidence and pride led to his downfall. Many leaders were unhappy, but Gehlot could not resolve their issues properly. Groupism and rebellion among party leaders spoiled the game for the party, to the extent that some leaders contested as independents, and a few joined the BJP.

The issue of leaked recruitment exam papers in Rajasthan heavily weighed against the Gehlot government. The BJP extensively targeted the Congress on this matter during the elections. Gehlot had to bear the brunt of the youth’s anger over the paper leak. Several instances of paper leaks in the last five years of Gehlot’s tenure came to light, and the BJP accused Gehlot of not taking action on the matter. This issue proved detrimental for the Gehlot government.

Crimes against women have been brought to light, leading the BJP to corner the Congress. The BJP has ranked the state at number one in crimes against women, targeting the Gehlot government. It even took a dig at Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for not commenting on certain incidents.

This time, the BJP has not only secured power in Rajasthan but also in the seemingly impossible state of Chhattisgarh, establishing its dominance and influence in the region where it has a stronghold. The narrative in these results is not just about the BJP’s victory but also about the significant defeat of the Congress.

Due to the inactivity of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh for the past four years, Bhupesh Baghel was so confident of his victory that he completely ignored the ground reality. He even disregarded the directives of the party high command to some extent in ticket distribution. The lack of coordination between Bhupesh Baghel and TS Singh Deo also proved costly. Despite being given a formula for appeasing Singh Deo, famous as Baba, after winning the 2018 elections, it was never implemented. Just before the elections, he was appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister. The Mahadev app scandal also weighed heavily on the government. The Mahadev app scandal, which came to light just before the elections, had a profound impact on the image of Chief Minister Baghel and the party. It is considered one of the major reasons for the defeat.

In the last five years, Bhupesh government focused mainly on Chhattisgarhi culture and farmers. The Congress stayed away from development works in urban areas. The OBC voter continued to vote for both the BJP and Congress. However, this time, the Congress was not successful in consolidating the OBC votes from different communities. The Sahu community, a significant vote bank that voted for Congress in the 2018 elections, showed a deviation this time.

In the elections of Chhattisgarh, there was some dissatisfaction among the people with the government, but a significant loss occurred due to the organization not being active. The organization was under the misconception that it was about to come into power. The organization neither managed at the booth level nor showed interest in mobilizing voters from their homes.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi himself had said that there might be doubt about Rajasthan, but Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were sure to be won by the party. Many independent surveys and polls were also telling a similar story. The exit polls in Rajasthan showed a see-saw battle in favor of Congress, and even after the first two phases of counting in Chhattisgarh, the same prediction was being made.

Once, Congress’ organization was known for this skill, but now that is a thing of the past. In terms of organizational capability, BJP is unparalleled, and it has proven that once again. Just like always, this time too, BJP entered the field with a new strategy. It sent a large number of central ministers, including party MPs, to contest in the assembly elections, which had never happened before. Although, in many early analyses, it was said that the party is indicating a defeat, so it took this step, whereas, in reality, it was a strategy for the party’s victory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the election campaign. After aggressive electoral rallies by Prime Minister Modi, energy flowed into the state leadership of all states.

The main reason for Congress’s defeat is the failure of Rahul Gandhi to instill sufficient confidence in his workers. Along with that, instead of dealing with the issues of nationalism against the opposition, Congress seemed to be avoiding it, creating an impression of being anti-national among the common people. The defeat of the Congress party is not just a loss but a downfall. No other political party has insulted God as much as this party has. Congress supporters indulged in a life of luxury and never connected with the people. The main reason for Congress’s defeat is that it never evaluates its shortcomings nor works towards improvement. Additionally, it engages in activities or makes statements that disturb the public, while Prime Minister Modi connects with the people’s hearts, making him successful.



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