The BJP expands its footprint in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena proves it's no spent force in its strongholds and Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena remains of little political consequence — these are some of the key takeaways from the civic polls in the state. The most important one, however, is that the Congress is in the process of becoming irrelevant in one more state.
Here's the story so far from the trend: In Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, its tally is down almost by half, from 52 in 2012 to 31 this time. In Pune, it has ceded to space to the BJP and is a poor third in the race. From 28 in 2012 to 16 this time, it's a big fall. In Thane it has slipped from 34 to 3 and in Nagpur from 41 to 22. It has registered poor performance in the civic bodies of Amaravati, Akola and Solapur. In short, it has been decimated.
And what does it say? Wherever it loses power, particularly in states with more than two contenders to power, it sinks. With little capacity to revive itself through organisational strength, it hurtles to the nadir. There's a reason why its presence is shrinking across the country. In states like West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc. it is reduced the role of a bit player. After the results on Thursday, Maharashtra appears to be a fresh addition to the list. Even in Odisha, the BJP has started replacing it at the grassroots level. The results of the Zilla Parishad election suggest this clearly.
Results of civic body polls anywhere may not mean much from the perspective of wider politics. The trend of the outcome may be different in elections at higher levels. But they reflect strength of parties on the ground. They indicate their cadre power and capacity to find their feet after an electoral blow or two. It also is way of getting a measure of rivals. The tally in the 10 civic body polls reveals that the Congress is losing ground fast. Even the strongholds are not so anymore. Being in the same bracket as the NCP and the MNS is certainly not a happy situation.
With the same script repeating everywhere, and for so long, it is expected that a party would sit up and initiate urgent action. Curiously, it appears they are in no hurry to address the situation. Factional fights continue in all units — in Maharashtra it is believed to be a major reason for the defeat as it is everywhere else. There's a crisis of leadership at all levels and the cadre is depleting. It is as if the Congress has decided to kill itself, slowly and steadily.
The BJP has created its own space and is growing rapidly. The civic polls in Maharashtra is an indicator of that. If the trend continues, the Shiv Sena, the Congress, the NCP and MNS would soon be reduced to fringe players in the state. The Congress should be particularly worried since it still claims to be a national party. But its efforts at organisational revival are hardly visible. Sanjay Nirupam has taken the blame for the party's performance in Mumbai and offered to quit. But that hardly is a solution without a re-invention of the party from the grassroots level.
Like we mentioned earlier, it has resigned itself to eventual death. The BJP should not try too hard to make India Congress-mukt. The Congress itself is working hard at it.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Feb 23, 2017 21:18:58 IST