Assembly poll results show the party is in deep leadership crisis

While political fortunes waxed and waned for different parties in the recent round of assembly elections, the results have once again highlighted Congress’s uniform decline across the country. In Bengal, the contest turned out to be one between TMC and BJP with the Congress-Left-ISF alliance being virtually wiped out. In fact, given the political narrative of the day, the alliance’s platform – which sought to project itself as an alternative to both BJP and TMC – had few takers. Add to this the fact that Congress and Left were partners in Bengal but rivals in Kerala – which also went to polls at the same time – and Congress’s position didn’t quite jell.

In Assam, where Congress cobbled together a grand alliance of opposition parties and hit the campaign trail on the anti-CAA platform, the party ultimately suffered from internal contradictions. Its Bengali Hindu leaders from Barak Valley were not fully onboard the anti-CAA pitch and had serious reservations about the seat-sharing arrangement with Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF. Plus, sans a charismatic local face, the Congress Assam unit found it difficult to gain ground against BJP’s wily Northeast manager Himanta Biswa Sarma.

True, Congress will point to its performance in Tamil Nadu to highlight its relevance in that state. But the victory here is largely down to DMK which did well not to give away too many seats to Congress. The biggest blow for Congress has been the failure of its UDF alliance in Kerala which usually votes out incumbent governments. Today Congress is a party without cadre and saddled with a listless leadership. Unless the Gandhis vacate their positions at the top, fresh blood and ideas won’t flow to the party, and it won’t be seen as a serious player in national politics. Can its soul searching begin now, at least?


This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.


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