As the BJP celebrates its wholesome mandate in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand and the formation of its government in Goa and Manipur, the Congress party seems to be shrouded in an opaque darkness. The party’s footprints are steadily shrinking and it is now in power in only six states – Punjab, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry. These states consists a population of merely 8.9% whereas the BJP ruled states have a population of 61%.
Successive polls have pointed out that the party has neither a charismatic leadership nor any autonomous state leaders. Off late, the party has seen a string of high-profile exits, all heading towards the saffron party. The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, and her brother Vijay Bhaguna from Uttrakhand are to name a few. The recent addition to the list is Karnataka veteran, SM Krishna.
Gone are the days when Congress had steadfast leaders in every state – Digvijay Singh in Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, Vasntrao Naik and Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, ND Tiwari and GB Pant in UP and Jagganath Mishra in Bihar. The Congress state units have been reduced to centres of feuds. It has become a regular feature that the Pradesh Congress Committee chief is in conflict with the Chief Minister wherever the Congress is in power.
For all the three years that the BJP has been in power in the centre, the Congress has been failing to give the voters a new agenda to vote for them. Besides lacking a concrete narrative, the party’s biggest failure has been its inability to communicate with the masses. By looking at the data, the UPA government had taken a number of measures in the rural sector and for the tribals. The BJP simply repackaged and marketed them. The so-called Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign) is one such examples, previously known as Nirmal Bharat Mission.
It is high time they should accept that even though the Gandhi family functions as a glue within the party, the top leadership has failed to garner votes from the electorates. At this juncture, they cannot evade a more fundamental and organisational restructuring.
As Mani Shankar Aiyar puts it, the erstwhile “natural party of governance” must shed down its ambitions from being an “inclusive party” to an “inclusive alliance” and act as a strong platform for opposition forces who either call themselves secular or are simply anti-BJP. If this does not happen, the party might not even win 44 seats in the 2019 general assembly elections.