‘Missing’ Rahul Gandhi may be behind hand-slide
NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD: When Congress released its manifesto for 2022 Gujarat polls on November 12, the party put up a clock at the GPCC headquarters to mark the countdown to result day which, they hoped, would herald ‘parivartan’ after two and half decades of BJP rule. After BJP’s record, the clock went blank on Thursday. By evening, some frustrated party workers allegedly smashed the clock.
The anger was understandable as Congress, which held the 149-seat record set in 1985 under the leadership of senior leader Madhavsinh Solanki, was reduced to a paltry 17 seats. This put into peril its claim of the opposition space in the Gujarat legislative assembly. A minimum of 10% seats — 18 seats — are required to stake a claim as the principal opposition party.
So what was the reason for Congress’ embarrassing performance? Many attribute it to Rahul Gandhi’s abdication post-2019 and the ensuing rudderlessness over two years. This allowed rival BJP an unchecked run to consolidate its position and created a vacuum to be filled by new players.
Though a non-Gandhi has now been elected as the party president, and Rahul too has signaled a willingness to engage, it may not be enough to undo the damage of two years.
The rout in Gujarat, coming on the back of losses in winnable states like Left-ruled Kerala and BJP-ruled Uttarakhand, and in Assam and Goa, indicate that the party has struggled to play catch up in states where the contest is bipolar. Now, it would have to pray that AAP does not find more takers in ‘Congress vs BJP’ states like neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan, or even other poll-bound turfs like Karnataka. As Gujarat has shown, AAP need not score big to dent Congress’s prospects while as proved by Punjab, it poses a serious threat with its ability to win over people as the non-Congress alternative.
Besides the defeats, the sheer vote gap between Congress and BJP has been demoralising. While HP provides some relief, an existential threat now looms over the party in Gujarat, yet another state threatening to fall off the Congress map. The BJP success owes as much to the absence of Congress from the field for an inordinately long period as to its own resources and ideas.
Rahul’s insistence on more than one occasion that “I am not interested in political power” has been seen by partymen as poor and dispiriting messaging. Voters too seem be taking it literally, as was feared.
And the long-term concern is whether Rahul could disappear again if the Lok Sabha contest in 2024 is disappointing.
Courtesy : TOI
Note: This news piece was originally published in timesofindia.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights .