Congress electoral footprint reduces as it loses another state


New Delhi: The Congress party’s electoral footprint shrunk further on Monday with the fall of its government in Puducherry and the resultant consequence of being left in power on its own mettle only in Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Barring a brief respite last week with a decisive victory in the urban local body elections in Punjab, the Congress has been grappling with the challenge of electoral slide for long now.

Although in power in Maharashtra in alliance with the Shiv Sena and NCP and in Jharkhand with the JMM, the grand old party is at best a second fiddle in these two major states.

The Congress” electoral decline has remained more or less consistent since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with the party losing power in Madhya Pradesh last year after the exit of stalwart Jyotiraditya Scindia over to the BJP.

Internal factionalism cost the Congress dearly in MP with Scindia”s desertion resulting in the fall of the Kamal Nath-led government there.

The Congress continued to remain weak after losing power in Madhya Pradesh to the BJP in March last year and later suffering embarrassing electoral defeats in Delhi and Bihar assembly polls.

While in Delhi the Congress scored a blank with 67 of the 70 contestants losing their deposits, in Bihar it was blamed for pulling down the RJD, as part of the ”Mahagathbandhan”.

Incidentally, the Left parties performed better than the Congress in Bihar while the RJD remained the single largest party as the BJP made major gains.

Earlier a rebellion in Rajasthan by ex-deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot almost pushed the Ashok Gehlot-led state government to the brink but for the last minute strategizing by the CM who warded off a potential revolt, and saved his government.

Rumblings within the Congress state unit in Rajasthan continue with Pilot and Gehlot still daggers drawn and often said to be working at cross purposes in a show of one upmanship.

Beaten and demoralised, the Congress is now pinning hopes of some gains in the mid-year assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala, seeking to expand its base but the goal appears too lofty to achieve.

The BJP”s aggressive push in all the above states coupled with the entry of AIMIM in Bengal will challenge Congress-Left”s prospects in the eastern state, while Assam will remain a tough battlefield in the presence of the incumbent BJP which is banking on multiple development project launches by the PM there.

Even in Kerala this time the Congress faces a tough road ahead despite the trends of alternate governments there.

The entry of E Sreedharan on BJP side has further queered the Kerala poll pitch.

The Congress is hoping to stage a comeback in Puducherry, where it has traditionally been strong but the numbers don”t stack up in its favour.

A spate of Congress MLA resignations have, however, undermined the party”s morale on the poll eve with Tamil Nadu appearing the sole winning bet, courtesy the DMK.

Congress insiders blame the weakening grip of the high command and the inability of the Gandhis to pull votes behind the ongoing slide of the party.

The group of 23 leaders including veterans Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma have been warning the Congress president against status quo since August last year but to no avail.

The party leadership remains fluid with Sonia Gandhi mostly keeping unwell and distant and Rahul Gandhi continuing to show reluctance to take up the job of the party chief and lead from the front.

Internal elections, a demand of the group of 23 leaders, remain on the back burner while the party”s fortunes continue to dwindle. Old timers feel it is time the party led from the front, which they hope may happen once the new president takes charge in June. PTI