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North East Assembly Election results 2018: Congress self-destructs again; time running out for Rahul Gandhi and Co

Every election appears to be a game of snakes and ladders for the Congress with the same result. After every throw of the dice, the party gets bitten by a snake and falls to zero or somewhere close to it. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, takes the ladder to go from nothing to victory.

Both Tripura and Nagaland reflect the same trend — of the Congress losing everything and landing on a snake's tail. And the BJP racing away to victory.

BJP supporters celebrate the party's win in Tripura. PTI

BJP supporters celebrate the party's win in Tripura. PTI

The problem with the narrative is this: After the Congress' performance in Gujarat, the party was supposed to take the ladder, not grab the snake's behind. It was expected to stick to the narrative of a resurgent Congress under a repackaged and rebranded Rahul Gandhi. But the dice continues to roll the same way.

Analysing a Congress defeat is no longer rocket science. The only thing that can be said about it is this: When you do the same thing the same way, the outcome will not change, even if you keep trying till kingdom come. The Congress has perfected the art of losing, and in every election, it displays its expertise like a circus monkey repeating the same trick.

What does the Congress do to lose with the consistency of a shooter hitting bullseye with every shot? The answer is, plenty.

One, it allows grassroots leaders to become redundant till they see no other option but to defect to the BJP. This happens because the high command, aka Rahul Gandhi, has very little time for understanding the realities on the ground and investing in those who can make an impact on the field.

The clearest evidence of his lack of foresight and insight being Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is now busy burying the Congress across the North East. And the same thing happened in Tripura again, where it allowed its heavyweights and sitting legislators to be poached by the BJP.

Two, it can't revive a dying cadre. The party seems to be doing nothing to have a presence on the ground. It lacks Amit Shah's patience and planning to go right down to the root of democracy. In the absence of support on the ground, it collapses like a castle in the wind.

Even in Gujarat, the Congress failed to win because it just couldn't convert support into votes. Whatever little it gained was because of the supporters of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakore.

Three, it fails to create an alternate narrative. The Congress keeps responding to the BJP's agenda, falling in the trap of playing catch-up. Presenting Rahul in a new package won't do it for the party. It needs to present the whole party in a new package, especially for young and urban voters. And for that, Rahul will have to do better than playing with Pidi and tweeting about his vacations. He will have to understand India, find out what it wants, and sell that to the voters.

That said, Rahul has one chance left to get his act together. Elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh will be one last opportunity to retrieve lost ground and challenge the BJP. In these states, the Congress has the best chance to perform better, or even win.

But even after this last throw of the dice, if the Congress finds itself kissed by the snake, it can kiss 2019 goodbye.

Follow all the latest updates from the North East states here

Updated Date: Mar 03, 2018 14:13 PM

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