MoSha v/s RaGa trigonometry
Rahul Gandhi must ensure a leap from current political arithmetic to reinvigorate Congress
Life is not about analysis of arithmetic data and certainly not if you want to win in electoral politics. It is more important to look deep into the algebra of electoral sentiments, to learn from mistakes and not repeating them if you want to secure a future. In real politics of elections, there is no such thing as one-plus-one is two and especially when you are contesting against the 'MoSha Methodology' — innovated by Modi-Shah duo in Indian politics.
You may make allegations against 'MoSha' and tell the world that EVMs were programmed. Who knows whether they were or not? You may blame 'MoSha' and tell the world that to infuse nationalism, achievements of the army were credited to political leadership and nothing could be more unethical than this to win a battle of ballots. You may abuse the Election Commission for not being impartial. You may say whatever you want. You may do whatever you can. But the entry of Narendra Modi's 'ThreeNotThree' soldiers in the lower house of Parliament is a fact that shall hover around the Congress party for a minimum period of five years.
But is the game for Congress, or for that matter entire Opposition, over? If one goes by the simple arithmetic, the future scenario seems gloomy. If an observer has the wisdom of reading the socio-political algebra of fast-changing passions that an Indian mind carry, s/he will tell you that the wind can blow in antithetical direction within no time provided Rahul Gandhi's Congress begins its march in a right direction. The road is certainly long and rough, but not unending. If 'RaGa' can consolidate his party with the music, that is the arithmetic of communication; and the optics, that is the geometry of light; his landing place is not very far away.
In around half-a-dozen states and UTs, Congress could not win any seat in 2019 general elections while BJP has secured more than 50 per cent votes in as many states and UTs. Congress could secure more than half of the polled votes only in Puducherry. Around 60 per cent of Congress's 52 seats come from just three states — Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Despite this, one must not ignore the fact that Congress has got 40 per cent votes in six states — Chhatisgarh, Punjab, Kerala, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Goa. In Assam also it has got a decent share of 35.4 per cent votes.
In the backdrop of an encouraging vote share in these states, Congress has to realise the need to work very hard in the Hindi heartland and among the electorate from the majority communities with a new roadmap. Hindus are not BJP's fiefdom. A large number of Hindus have voted for Congress also. But in the states where Congress has got more than 40 per cent votes, except Chhattisgarh, the common thing is that all of these states have substantial Non-Hindu population: 91 per cent in Nagaland, 89 per cent in Meghalaya, 61 per cent in Punjab, 45 per cent in Kerala, 39 per cent in Assam and 34 per cent in Goa. Congress must also beware of the fact that in Nagaland, despite getting more than 40 per cent votes, its vote share fell by 18 percentage points and the beneficiary is BJP's ally NDPP. Similarly, in West Bengal Congress's vote share went down by 4 percentage points and in all probability, it went to TMC.
Rahul's Congress will have to make strenuous efforts in the states where it lagged behind BJP by 20 percentage points or more and where its own vote share is less than 35 per cent. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh fall in this category. Uttar Pradesh, of course, will need exceptional attention where Congress could get just 6.3 per cent votes and had to face a calamitous defeat in Amethi despite Rahul Gandhi getting 4.14 Lac votes in his favour.
Congress's overall vote share has marginally increased compared to 2014. In Puducherry this increase is 29 percentage points, in Tripura, it is 10 points, in Meghalaya 9 points, in Tamil Nadu 8 points, in Delhi and Punjab 7 points, in Kerala, Assam and Goa 6 points, in Telangana, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana 5 points. This means that in forthcoming assembly elections in Delhi and Haryana, Congress is in a position to perform far better than people expect at the moment. This is the time when Rahul must not waste a minute to finalise strategy for the states where the poll is due between October this year and January next year.
2019 election story is not about Congress's gains at the cost of BJP. Whatever little Congress could gain is at the cost of regional parties. Congress was detrimental to Left Front in Tripura and Kerala, AIADMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu, Akali Dal in Punjab TRS in Telangana, INLD in Haryana, AAP in Delhi and AINRC in Puducherry. In Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, Congress's gains are partly at the expense of BJP and partly AIUDF and PDP. Therefore, Congress needs to redesign its strategy to either associate with like-minded forces with a new drawing in its hands or opt for a stable and stretched path of going alone.
Out of 899 million voters, 611 million went to more than one million polling booths to cast their votes in 2019 election. Among them, around 10 million were first-time voters. BJP got around 228 million votes and Congress 119 million. Around 61 million additional voters than 2014 elections voted in current elections. BJP got 57 million extra votes and Congress 12 million extra votes than in 2014. In 2019, there were 193 million additional voters than in 2009 who polled their votes. BJP secured 150 million more votes than in 2009. Congress, in fact, could secure almost the same tally as in 2009. With 19.49 per cent votes and only 9.57 per cent seat share in Lok Sabha against 37.36 per cent votes and 55.8 per cent seat share in Parliament, Congress cannot afford the luxury of lying on the couch of roses anymore.
Among the 421 seats Congress contested, it won 52, came second on 196 and third or below on 173. Even on the seats it finished as runner-up, the margins are huge. The principal responsibility of Rahul-Priyanka duo would be to prepare their party for a big swing next time as smaller swings will not help it fighting BJP effectively. A swing of 2.5 per cent votes would take Congress to only 69 seats in 2024. A swing of 7-8 per cent will also get Congress just 106 seats. That means Congress will have to attract an overall swing of around 12 per cent to be able to win the race after five years from now. With refuelling the foot soldiers and by liberating his party from greedy deadwoods — even if they are young in age, Rahul can certainly achieve this goal.
(The author is Editor & CEO of News Views India and a national office bearer of the Congress party. The views expressed are strictly personal)