Congress in tatters but Gandhis will 'rule the ruins'

New Delhi: The Congress party’s 0-3 defeat to BJP in the Hindi heartland not only marred the party’s hopes in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan but also hit at the very heart of Congress’ preparation for the Lok Sabha polls. The failure also clouds Congress’ quest to position itself within the INDIA bloc as it can make the party prone to the pulls and pressures from regional biggies, who have already made taunting noises on the Congress’ poor show.

Whither INDIA?

After not convening any INDIA meeting since mid-September by hoping it will do so from a position of strength after winning some states, Congress on Sunday advertised its resolve to convene an alliance meet. But the date it informally floated – December 6 – made some in the Opposition camps wonder whether the poll jolts also numbed the AICC to overlook the fact that in the post-2014 politics of Hindutva resurgence, the party chose the anniversary of the Babri masjid demolition. It remains to be seen whether BJP’s resurgence in key states ahead of the Lok Sabha polls will affect unity within the INDIA bloc and whether it will make some regional parties rebound to NDA or float a third front.

Modi Vs Gandhis folly

A deadly combination – of the Gandhi family’s sense of entitlement and nominated party office-bearers’ selfish obligation – again made the party project Rahul as its leader in perennial search for electoral jackpot despite leading Congress to its worst defeats since 2014 . Having led the UP Congress to its nadir – 2.5% votes and two assembly seats – Priyanka Gandhi Vadra now looks for an image makeover by acting as a fellow ‘star campaigner’ with her brother. These give BJP what it wants – the ‘Modi Vs Gandhis contests’ that keeps the “anti-dynasty” plank sizzling. “By the way, who is ‘panauti’ now?” asked an exasperated Congress MP.

  • All
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Rajasthan
  • Telangana
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Mizoram

The AICC’s persistent demands for more campaign rallies for the siblings in poll states meant local leaders/candidates diverting valuable time and resources to invest in the family’s self-promotions with no guarantee of returns. The Gandhi-Vadra campers calculate that victories will make the siblings ‘stars’ and defeats will, still, help them control what is left of the party of nominated functionaries. “I am unable to understand. It’s a shock for us. Someone will have to take responsibility for this (loss). We will have to introspect…,” Renuka Chowdhury told the media.

Looking for fall guys

But the loyalists are looking to pass on the blame to “local leaders and factors”, whom the Rahul-Priyanka duo were eclipsing throughout the campaign. The same quarters, which had hailed Rahul’s “janeudhari brahmin” pose as a ‘master-stroke’ as his subsequent “OBC messiah” act, has now started asking whether Kamal Nath’s “soft Hindutva politics” was a mistake in MP. The same quarters, which hailed the Gandhis for trying to keep Pilot’s fight against Gehlot sizzling, now wonder whether “infighting in the states” proved costlier.

Whither Caste Census?

The defeat also showed Rahul’s caste census plank not only failed to make any impact but it was in conflict with the DNA of the Congress persons, the worst sufferers of the Mandal politics. The defeats meant the AICC’s obsession to spin Rahul-led Bharat Jodo Yatra as a game-changer was losing its steam. But the likely ED summons again to Sonia-Rahul duo has already made party circles wonder whether it’s time for Bharat Jodo Yatra-2. Even as Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is being allowed to hold on to his post delicately, wait for more image “re-building photo ops” by the Gandhi-Vadra siblings with the aid of event managers.

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William Murphy

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