Maharashtra Poll – Is Congress Facing Extinction?


Once again Congress lost in Maharashtra, the second most populous state of India. It had lost it in Lok Sabha election of 2014. It lost in Assembly Elections which took place in the same year. The loss was even more humiliating in the Assembly Election, because it had slid at the third place behind BJP and Shiva Sena. The latest Municipal Elections gave yet another chance to Congress to reverse its fading political clout, but Congress here failed, too.

Congress was ruling Pune, Solapur, Amrawati and Pimpari-Chinchwad Municipal Councils in alliance with Nationalist Congress Party, but it lost in all these Municipal Councils, too. It could not make any improvement, where it was in opposition; rather it went downhill in almost all. In the most prestigious Brihanmumbai Municipal Council (BMC), it emerged as poor third winning only in 31 wards, while it had won in 52 wards five years ago.

Just like in the last Assembly Election, Congress has acquired third place and even fourth in some of the Corporations. Shiva Sena and BJP were contesting these elections separately and it had provided an opportunity to the grand old party of India to take advantage of their divide and regain the lost ground, but their division only increased the woe of the Party, because both of them performed better than it and its political space has further shrunk. If BJP and Shiva Sena continue contesting against each other, Congress would continue to be on the fringe, because main contests would confine between the two saffron parties.

Obviously Maharashtra has joined the States, where Congress finds itself at margins. In the most populous state Uttar Pradesh, Congress had got marginalised in 1991 Lok Sabha elections and since then it could not come to mainstream. Same is the case in the third most populous State of Bihar. In 1995 Assembly Elections, it had got relegated to the third position, now it has lost its relevance there and in 2010 Assembly Elections, when it fought alone, it could get only 4 seats. In the fourth most populous state of West Bengal, the main fight took place between Trinmool Congress of Mamata Banerjee and left parties and Congress has become the third force there. Even that position is in danger because of the increasing hold of BJP.

Tamilnadu is the fifth most populous state of India. Congress had lost its primacy there around 5 decades ago and it has to fight election by entering into alliance with one of the regional parties. Karnataka is the only major state, where it is in power now. In Orissa it is the main opposition party, but in recently held local body elections there, it has lost sufficient ground to BJP and it is in the process of getting marginalised in that eastern coastal state of India, too. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangna, too, some regional parties are strengthening their holds and Congress is feeling restless there.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a vow to make India free from Congress. It does not seem imaginary, though Congress is not going downhill because of Modi, but because of its own weakness. It is facing a leadership crisis at the top. Sonia and Rahul are not able to turn its fortunes for the better, because they themselves have never been ground level politician. They acquired the leadership because of their family. In the process of strengthening their hold, they have made Congress leaderless. It is wrong to blame Sonia and Rahul only for the coming demise of the party. In fact, the decline has started at the time of Indira Gandhi itself, when the big leaders were deserting it. The desertions continued during Rajeev time.

Narsimha Rao had marginalised the Gandhi family, when he was the Prime Minister and the President of Congress, but unfortunately his successor Sitaram Kesri facilitated the entry of Sonia Gandhi and when she took over the Party, the mass exodus of Congress leaders took place. She got power by aligning other parties and Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister of India for 10 years, but Congress could not utilize that period to check its downfall, rather the power hastened its declines.

There was a time, when almost all sections of society were associated with Congress and it represented India?s ?unity in diversities?, but now hardly any segment of society wants to indentify itself with Congress. This is the reason; Congress is getting defeat in one after another election. To remain relevant in a state, it has to align with some or the other party of the province. But even this strategy has its own limitations and drawbacks. It can provide some relief to some party leaders, who may enjoy power in alliance government, but it cannot revive the party.

-Contributed by Kriti

Picture Credits: ibtimes.com

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