Congress After 2016 Assembly Elections: Increasing Invisibility?
File photo of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. (Reuters)
What is the takeaway for the Congress from the current round of assembly elections?
It is quite simple, really: Where is the Indian National Congress, in spite of some gutsy showing in Tamil Nadu?
It has just lost Assam and Kerala and is now in power in six states out of 30: Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur. Its presence, or return to power, in Puducherry is not even notional because it is the All India N Rangaswamy Congress (AINRC), a breakaway faction of the Congress, which is fighting on its own. The Congress is reduced to fighting in alliance with the DMK. Of these six, Karnataka is the only state of considerable size, importance and politics.
This is the Congress’ lowest showing ever. Even when it lost power at the Centre in the past, it always was in power in more than a dozen states. When it received its latest drubbing in 2014 at the hands of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the Congress remained in power in 11 states.
The picture has changed for the worse since then. What next?
In 2017, assembly elections are due in Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. As on today, only Harish Rawat, the chief minister of the last state mentioned, claims confidently that the Congress will return to power. Nowhere else.
In 2018, assembly elections are due in Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Tripura. As on date, can the Congress expect to retain Karnataka? Nowhere else.
In early 2019 – coinciding with the General Elections – assembly elections are due in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha. Where is the Congress in a position to return to power?
In the latter half of 2019, after the conclusion of the General Elections, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand go to polls. The Congress, as on date, stands no chance in these states either.
Just to make the picture clearer, here are some more factoids:
In 2014, the Trivedi Political Data Centre of Ashoka University in Haryana compiled figures of legislators of all parties in India. It found that in 2014, the BJP for the first time had more MLAs than the Congress since Independence. The BJP had 1058 legislators to 949 of the Congress.
Till then, the Congress figure had dipped below 1,000 only in 1977 and 1979. That figure will reduce further now. We are not even talking about the numbers in the Rajya Sabha two years from now.
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