Rahul Gandhi and his team should do some soul searching after the exit polls. Their politics and policies have brought their party to the brink of disaster. If they do not stop, introspect and act, Narendra Modi’s dream of a Congress-mukt Bharat will come true in May 2014.
The Congress can deny trends forecast by the exit polls. Its spokespersons can churn millions of words of bravado. But the writing on the wall is clear: The Congress could be decimated in the Lok Sabha polls.
If the semi-finals are an indication, the Congress would struggle to get into double digits in the Hindi heartland. The BJP will sweep the election in this region.
Nothing worked for the Congress. Elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were fought on different issues. The Congress strategy in every state was different. Yet the result appears same.
In Rajasthan, the Congress was in power. It had a credible face. The government acted like Santa Claus for almost two years. It distributed the wealth of the state with both hands in the garb of welfare schemes. Every palm was greased, every pocket was filled.
In Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress was in opposition. It had everything to gain from voter fatigue against the government. In addition, there was an undercurrent of sympathy for the party in Chhattisgarh.
In Delhi, it had a charismatic leader with a proven record of good governance. Arvind Kejriwal’s party made the contest not only triangular—something that traditionally suits the party-- but also divided the anti-Congress vote.
Different players, different games, different playgrounds, different rules, nothing is helping the Congress avoid a 0-4 whitewash.
What is destroying the Congress? Why is the Congress losing everywhere? For anybody willing to listen to the aam aadmi, the answers are loud and clear.
One, Rahul Gandhi has failed as a leader. The Congress can keep foisting him on the electorate. But he is unlikely to be accepted by India, at least not in his current avatar. The sooner the Congress accepts this, the faster it can start rebuilding. It is very easy to say that Narendra Modi is helping the BJP win everywhere. But Modi is just a symbol of popular antipathy to the Congress and its top leadership. Modi is just reaping the harvest of discontent sown by the Congress.
Two, the Congress brand of politics has failed. Just after the election in Rajasthan, chief minister Ashok Gehlot convened a meeting of the party candidates and pompously announced he is returning to power. His claim was based on just one argument: Muslims have turned out in large numbers to vote.
Had he been watching TV on polling day, Gehlot wouldn’t have resorted to this mindless optimism. On the morning of December 1, a private channel’s crew asked a young Muslim girl in Sardarpura, Gehlot’s constituency, their standard question: kaisa lag raha hai? The girl replied: “I feel empowered. But do not think that just because I am a Muslim, I have come out to support the Congress. My vote is against inflation and corruption.”
Unfortunately for the Congress-- and this is what riles people-- the party still believes that electoral battles can be decided by its captive votebank. Its assumption is based on the false premise that the minority vote has just one option. This myth has been busted by the trend in Rajasthan, where in spite of the high polling by Muslims, the Congress is getting wiped out.
This could mean just two things. Either the minority voters are open to new options, including Modi’s BJP. Or a large turnout negates the impact of votebank politics completely.
Three, the Congress should forget that it can win elections by just doling out freebies. A day after the elections in Rajasthan, many Congress leaders seemed convinced that people had come out in large number to ‘repay the government’s debt.’ One of them argued that people are not so ‘namak haraam’ to vote against the Congress even after getting so much free from the government.
The trends in Rajasthan, which was the Congress laboratory for Sonianomics, clearly show that slipping a Rs 500 note in the pocket of voters under the garb of welfare is not going to work. People have become aware that the Congress has perfected the art of paying today to rob tomorrow. It just doesn’t work.
What does this mean? The Congress needs to change its leaders, politics and economics completely. It needs to start from the scratch. It would be foolish to expect today that the Congress can look beyond Rahul, votebank politics and Sonianomics. But 2014 is not far away. The results would force the Congress to consider the unthinkable.
Updated Date: Dec 05, 2013 13:35:12 IST