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Politically dormant

Politically dormant

Trumpets roared to mark the remarkable moment of Aam Aadmi Party winning the Delhi Assembly polls by a landslide majority. It grabbed 62 seats against 67 in 2015, while BJP managed 8 — a meagre improvement from 3 seats in 2015. Naturally, silence prevailed in the BJP offices as felicitations poured in from the Prime Minister and other politicians across the country. While the contest was largely between AAP and BJP, a dormant Congress could have racked up a small share to upset AAP's strong numbers. Instead, Congress drew blank in a repeat of its 2015 Assembly poll performance. Congress' nil may have helped AAP thrash BJP by a colossal margin but it also ascertains the party's long-running misery in the country's political scene. A deserted Congress office in Delhi told the tale of the grand old party's misfortune. It had, for the second consecutive time, failed to win a single seat in the Assembly polls of the place it literally developed over the course of three astonishing terms under the late party stalwart Sheila Dikshit. But even for its dismal performance, which only underscores the rough patch that party is in, the party was jubilant over the defeat of their arch-rivals and their divisive agenda that AAP trumped. Veteran Congress leaders hailing AAP's victory sure was a display of party's happiness even in defeat. But Congress' outstanding situation is one which requires desperate introspection and wide deliberation. Delhi Congress chief PC Chacko pinned the party's downfall to the year 2013, implicitly blaming former CM Sheila Dikshit. Delhi Mahila Congress president Sharmistha Mukherjee questioned a visibly jubilant P Chidambaram — celebrating AAP's victory of BJP — if the party had outsourced the task of contesting against its biggest rival to the state parties. Congress' vote share plummeted to 4.26 per cent in 2020 Assembly polls from that of 9.7 per cent in 2015. In fact, 95 per cent of Congress' candidates could not hold on to their security deposit. In the 66 seats that Congress contested in Delhi polls, 63 candidates failed to garner one-sixth of votes in their constituency. As per Section 34, 1(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a security deposit of Rs 10,000 is mandatory to contest assembly elections in order to ensure that only serious candidates file their nominations to contest polls. 2015 was also not better. In 2015, out of the 70 seats that it contested, 62 candidates lost their security deposits. Failing to procure one-sixth of votes in each constituency underlines a serious decline in popularity. Few would have guessed the stark contrast in popularity that Congress exhibited in the national capital during former CM Dikshit's reign. It remains a mystery as to why Congress failed to come up with a leader despite repeated drubbings in back to back elections, be it Delhi or the Centre. In Sheila Dikshit, Congress had what AAP cherishes in Kejriwal and BJP does in Modi at the Centre. Against all odds, the party confidently entered the 2014 and 2019 elections taking on BJP's Modi who enjoyed the popular vote. On both occasions of Lok Sabha polls, the party not only failed to make a dent on BJP's astounding majority but could not amass enough seats to sit in the opposition in Lok Sabha — failing to procure even 10 per cent of total seats. Congress' shortfall to do so has cost them a say in the Lower House where Modi's BJP has been passing bills as per its whim. If someone ought to take the blame for providing BJP with a free hand in the Lok Sabha and not once but twice, it has to be Congress. Congress' outlook towards India's political situation today seems to be resting on BJP's anti-incumbency more than its own capability.

The Delhi Assembly polls mark a new low for Congress. Watching BJP taste defeat in the Assembly polls of Delhi is only a superficial joy as internal turmoil prevails. Lack of leadership continues to haunt Congress and local parties across states have visibly taken over its vote banks. The brief resurgence that Congress achieved in 2018 prior to the Lok Sabha polls can also be attributed to local leaders in Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Bhagel — all of whom people revere in their respective states. While anti-incumbency may have swung the mandate in Congress's favour in the Assembly elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, these leaders attracted the mandate just as much. Here was a lesson for Congress that leadership and party face is an absolute necessity for a pan-Indian resurgence. With Sheila Dikshit gone, party's Delhi unit resembles a hollow structure. It carries the face of India's greatest party but has become politically dormant in present times. Unless Congress comes up with novel leadership and a supporting team, the downfall will continue with very grim chances of success in 2024.

Editorial

Editorial

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