BJP vs Congress: Why the Gandhi family is likely to become redundant in Indian politics post 2019
Overall, it's a grim scenario for the Congress and its first family. Both face the prospect of getting redundant. After 2019, they may not even be discussed as political players of any consequence.
Enough has been said about the failure of the Gandhis to revive the sinking Congress. The party has been going down over the last 25 years and the reasons for it are far too visible to merit retelling. The blame for the state of affairs lies squarely on the party's first family. The big question after the latest round of poll debacle is when are the Gandhis going to finally fade away from the country's political scene. A good guess would be after the general election of 2019.
There's good reason for this guess. The party is losing its base in states at an alarming pace. It has 44 members in the Lok Sabha, but given the utter callousness it has handled its slide, the number is likely to be much less in the next general election. That would leave it with a weaker presence than some regional parties. If the results from the Assembly segments in Amethi and Raebareli, the pocket borough of the Gandhis, are any indicator, then both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are likely to lose their parliamentary seats.
The Congress lost eight out of the 10 seats in Amethi and Raebareli. Of the eight, the BJP won six and the Samajwadi Party two. In Rahul's constituency, Amethi, the Congress drew a blank. In Sonia Gandhi's constituency it won two out five seats. In 2012 assembly elections too, the Congress had lost eight of the 10 seats. If the trend of losses continues then the Congress president and the vice president could be without seats of their own post 2019 election.
In such a scenario, both would lose whatever moral halo they have left to run the Congress. Worse, they wouldn't be considered national leaders by any of the regional satraps, who are far stronger leaders in their own right. After the debacle in Uttar Pradesh it is doubtful whether the Congress would be seen as the potential leader of a coalition of parties. With Rahul Gandhi as its leader, the likelihood of it gets slimmer.
The biggest problem for the family is it has no trump card left. Rahul has proved to be a failure. Sonia is out of action. Priyanka Gandhi, the best bet for a party that can chose a leader only from the family, is a spent force even before she has been put to use. The loss in Amethi and Raebareli, the constituencies she looks after personally, highlights her growing irrelevance. The novelty factor around her is lost. Even if she takes over the party's charge it is not going to be much help. The choice for the Congress's first family is limited. It may go for a leader from outside the close circle but the talent pool is nearly empty. The party is paying a heavy price for not grooming potential leaders.
The Congress is also fast gaining notoriety as an undependable electoral ally. Parties which ally with the Congress have been losing the elections. This happened with the Left in West Bengal and now with the Samajwadi Party.
Party in Uttar Pradesh. Considering the lack of seriousness in the top leadership — read the Gandhis — to rebuild the party and build a base, any alliance with it is likely to entail grave risks. So from now on, it will be a lonely trudge for the Congress in national politics. Clawing back to prominence with the support of others would be impossible.
Overall, it's a grim scenario for the Congress and its first family; both face the prospect of getting redundant. After 2019, they may not even be discussed as political players of any consequence.
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