Congress’s solo gamble backfires in State assembly elections
ML Verma/Shimla, Dec 3
A year after a strong comeback in Himachal Pradesh and historic success in Karnataka, the Congress party’s decision to go solo, abandoning its alliance with INDIA, has cost it dearly in three crucial states, despite being close to victory. The outcome of the five-state electoral verdict held people’s attention on popular social media and channels since early morning.
Despite riding on strong anti-incumbency and a divided house, the BJP performed better in the three Hindi heartland states, including Madhya Pradesh. The Congress party, without considering its current track record of repeated setbacks, went solo and seemed to have misjudged its victories in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka.
Except for Telangana, Congress’s arithmetic failed to garner a tangible response from the electorate. In the three states, however, people across the country expected the grand old party to make a comeback, but it miserably misjudged its popularity and ignored the follies of its worst track record and disconnect with the people.
Despite having Congress governments in two states, BJP wrestled power from under their noses. The hard fact couldn’t be ignored that, by virtue of being in power for the last ten years at the center, BJP’s control over media, resources, money, elections, and government machinery is unmatched compared to Congress.
Did Congress not commit suicide by going solo when it could secure an average of 40% votes on its own? Election data on the Election Commission website reveals a neck-to-neck battle between BJP and INDIA. The gap of four to five percent in the number of seats cost Congress power in three states, despite its strong performance on 50 to 60 percent of seats.
The margin of victory and loss may have a wafer-thin percentage if Congress had partnered with INDIA and sacrificed a couple of seats. BJP must thank BSP, as it snatched two to three percent of votes from the kitty of INDIA, and in all three states, BSP emerged as a stronger third force, gaining two to three percent of the votes in Rajasthan and MP.
The margin of victory and loss should force Congress to learn from this debacle in the wake of the upcoming Lok Sabha election. In Rajasthan, Congress could have performed better despite having a fractured opposition.
BJP used every trump card to regain power in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan; however, the victory challenges the hegemony of the Modi-Shah duo, as BJP made a return by utilizing the services of many old horses and iconic leaders, downgrading their political stature.
The victory of Shivraj Chauhan in Rajasthan and Vasundhara Raje reminds us of the 2017 Himachal Pradesh assembly election when Prem Kumar Dhumal was made the campaign leader in the last hours, but after returning to power, he was forced to take political asylum.
Do Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Chauhan have a similar fate? The election results appeared unexpected; however, postponed election results in Mizoram also helped BJP’s victory to look larger than life. The victory of BJP could be attributed to its determination not to give up until the last minute.
The election could not be termed fully neutral, at least in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Elections in the five states also forced BJP to focus on the three major states and be least bothered about the remaining two.
Political pundits in Himachal state that it is not just a semifinal for LS-2024 but a pre-trial, as BJP’s agenda is to focus on those states from which it has or expects more LS seats, which it cannot afford to lose.
States with fewer LS seats in assembly polls were not on the top agenda of Modi-Shah as they wanted to keep a grip on the pulse of those states on which they rely for victory.
Congress’s continued reliance on old party election tricks and outdated leaders forces it into an unexpected debacle. Could it not take free services and a lot of resources from I.N.D.I.A alliance parties that could help it retain power if they fought together?
The verdict of three assembly elections rings alarm bells for Congress, as, like AICC, it must have elections in the PCC and retire old horses in the party departure lounge.
Congress went solo despite having no match for BJP’s strategies and resources; however, it should learn from its adversaries and set an expiry date for its working committee leaders who may now be unfit in the present scenario.
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