on Monday lost its lone government in south India after the V Narayanasamy-led alliance lost the floor test in
With the latest setback, the Congress’s political footprint in India has shrunk even further with the grand old party now in power on its own mettle in just three states: Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Besides these three, the Congress is part of the ruling alliance with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra and JMM in Jharkhand. However, the party is the junior partner in both these states.
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.
Following the debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress’s electoral fate has seen little change. The party lost power in Madhya Pradesh last year after its stalwart leader Jyotiraditya Scindia defected to the
In Delhi, the Congress scored a blank with 67 of the 70 contestants losing their deposits. Whereas in Bihar, it was blamed for pulling down the RJD, as part of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.
Last year, 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.
Moreover, the party has also been facing internal squabbles ever since several senior leaders wrote a letter to the leadership demanding an organisational overhaul.
The group of 23 leaders including veterans Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma have been warning Congress president Sonia Gandhi against status quo since August last year but to no avail.
The party leadership remains fluid with Sonia 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.
Rumblings within the Congress state unit in Rajasthan continue with Pilot and Gehlot still at odds and often said to be working at cross purposes in a show of one upmanship.
The loss in Puducherry also comes at a crucial time as assembly elections are lined up in five key states in April-May this year.
Beaten and demoralised, the Congress is now pinning hopes of some gains in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala, seeking to expand its base but the goal appears too lofty to achieve.
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 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.
(With inputs from PTI)
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