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Indian ‘Notional’ Party

Poornima Joshi | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

Congress should hold organisational polls to resolve its crisis

A gentrified version of what would have been an all-out bloodbath in any living, breathing political entity is unfolding in the Congress, after yet another humiliating debacle at the hustings. The disquiet voiced by Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal has been typically met with more stony silence from the top.

The facts are stark — of the 58 Assembly seats in which by-polls were held across 11 States this month, the BJP won 40 and the Congress 12. The BJP wrested all the eight seats the Congress had won in the 2017 Assembly polls in Gujarat. In Madhya Pradesh, it won 19 of the 28 seats. In Bihar, the RJD has accused the Congress of “shackling” the Mahagathbandhan (MGB) which lost to the ruling NDA by a whisker — 37.26 per cent vote share for the NDA compared to 37.23 per cent for the MGB. Rahul Gandhi, said RJD’s Shivanand Tiwari, was “picnicking” while his party won just 19 of the 70 seats it contested.

Leadership is only a part of the Congress’s problem. It suffers from an overall structural decline with its vote share sliding to 19.7 per cent in 2019, and to number 3 or 4 in four major states — UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu — that account for 201 seats in the Lok Sabha. It has not won in 95 Lok Sabha constituencies since 1989, another 17 since 1991, 27 more since 1996, 11 since 1998 and seven post 1999. In terms of social support base, it is now mostly dependent on a shrunken minority base, which too is looking for a national alternative in the rising force of Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM. A section of SC/STs and other social groups have gradually gravitated towards regional parties and the BJP.

Rahul and Sonia Gandhi should contest an organisational election to emerge as the party’s genuine choice. Azad and like-minded people will need to re-double their efforts to instill change in the Congress.

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Published on November 24, 2020
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