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Assembly elections: Congress faces questions of relevance and survivability

The massive defeat in both the states was writing on the wall for the Congress and it reluctantly went to the polls dragging its feet.

D P Satish | IBNLive.comdp_satish

Updated:October 20, 2014, 12:27 PM IST
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Assembly elections: Congress faces questions of relevance and survivability
The massive defeat in both the states was writing on the wall for the Congress and it reluctantly went to the polls dragging its feet.

New Delhi: The day the Congress was swept out of both Maharashtra and Haryana by the Bharatiya Janata Party, its national Vice President Rahul Gandhi was in the Hudhud cyclone hit Visakhapatnam visiting the worst affected areas. In typical Congress style, he and his mother party chief Sonia Gandhi issued short statements about the results later in the day. Normally, they don't take questions when the party loses. The massive defeat in both the states was writing on the wall for the Congress and it reluctantly went to the polls dragging its feet.

However, the results have hit the party hard and the regional parties may replace the Congress as the main opposition to the BJP across India. Never in its history since Independence, had the Congress faced this kind of situation.

Even after the Emergency, it won over 150 Parliament seats and continued to rule several states. It was invincible in the South, except Tamil Nadu. Even during the regime of AB Vajpayee, the Congress was in power in Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and a few more states.

Now, the Congress is left with only one major state - Karnataka. Two other relatively major states which are still with the Congress are Kerala and Assam. Only Karnataka and Kerala have more than 20 Lok Sabha seats. Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats.

Remaining states are smaller and have not much impact on the national politics. The situation is very grim and the future looks very bleak for the party. The Congress is expected to lose both Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir which are going to polls by the end of this year. Its situation is shaky even in Assam.

Rahul Gandhi's lack of charisma and his reluctance to accept the realities of politics are blamed for the continued slide of the party across India. It is a very well known fact that a small arrogant coterie, which has no ears to the ground controls the Congress and Rahul Gandhi also listens to it.

The Congress is now left with no mass leader in any state. Three of its big mass leaders have been forced to leave the party in the past 18 years. Other state level or district level leaders are treated with disrespect by its so-called high command in New Delhi that wants to exercise complete authority with no responsibility or vision.

Sonia Gandhi looks tired and she is also growing older. Her efforts to make the son Rahul Gandhi an effective leader seem to have failed. A section in the party is demanding that Sonia must make her daughter Priyanka Gandhi the next leader to save the party.

Some Congress workers protested outside the Congress head quarters on Akbar Road in New Delhi demanding that Priyanka Gandhi must be asked to lead the party and Rahul Gandhi should be given a long 'break'.

Several state units of the Congress are in disarray and the morale of the party workers is perhaps the lowest in its history. PM Narendra Modi who is ruling the country and controlling the BJP with absolute authority has given enough hints that he is here to play a longer innings. It has also put big question marks over the survival of the Congress.

A closer look at the current situation indicates that even Priyanka Gandhi can't do much for the party and only its workers and local leaders can save it. The party has become almost irrelevant in the national politics and putting it back on the right track is not going to be an easy job.

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