It is time for introspection within the Congress as the party seems to be ceding ground
GN Bureau | May 19, 2016
As the BJP celebrated its magnificent victory in Assam, the outcome of assembly elections in five states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry – should make India’s oldest political party – the Congress – search its soul on the very purpose of its existence and course correction.
Assam is not a simple maiden win for the BJP in the northeast. It has the potential to trigger a saffron wave across the northeast. Given the vulnerability of the political regimes to a split in favour of powerful national entities, the Congress has an additional worry on the cards in the region, where it has to safeguard its governments in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur.
With the Congress losing Assam and Kerala; getting further marginalised in West Bengal and remaining a virtual non-entity in Tamil Nadu for the nth election, the grand old party is virtually staring at its obliteration from the political scene of India.
Though the party leaders tried to make light of the defeat in four key states on the logic that state elections are decided on local and not national trends, the worry lines on their faces told a different story.
With its not-so-unexpected defeat in Kerala, the Congress is now left with only one major state– Karnataka – where it has a government.
The party is standing on cross roads wherein the leadership - coming from the Nehru-Gandhi family – seems to be at sea. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is not seen as strong and competent enough to beat the saffron surge across India. Gandhi is seen as a reluctant leader, who has failed to take up the challenge of reviving the party.
The results have given a fresh lease of life to BJP chief Amit Shah and other election strategists of BJP, more so after the humiliating defeat in Bihar, where Nitish Kumar led coalition including Congress had given a crushing defeat to the saffron party.
The outcome of elections in five states is no solace for Congress, which is planning for next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh. The party is already riven with dissensions over hiring the services of a professional election strategist Prashant Kishore over political leadership in planning for the crucial elections.
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