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Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

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Congress needs a new leadership if it wants to avoid electoral, political oblivion

The Gandhis, Rahul and Priyanka in front, led the party's campaign in all five states that went to polls and the party was rejected by voters everywhere. They should now accept the reality and vacate their positions of leadership, formal and informal.

The Gandhis, Rahul and Priyanka in front, led the party's campaign in all five states that went to polls and the party was rejected by voters everywhere.

The verdict is unambiguous: The electorate does not see the Congress as a party of governance any more and the party’s first family can no longer escape the blame. The Gandhis, Rahul and Priyanka in front, led the party’s campaign in all five states that went to polls and the party was rejected by voters everywhere. They should now accept the reality and vacate their positions of leadership, formal and informal, if the party has to survive and reinvent itself to battle the BJP juggernaut.

The Congress has been in a free fall since 2014, when the Narendra Modi-led BJP won a decisive majority in the Lok Sabha, the first time a party had done so since 1984. Thereafter, the Congress has ceded space to the BJP almost all over India. Take the five states that have now emphatically rejected the Congress: In UP, where Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the campaign, the party polled just a little over 2 per cent votes; in Punjab, the party has received a drubbing — outgoing Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, and state chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu, have failed to win their own seats. Former CM and the party’s chief campaigner in Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat, also did not get elected, a repeat of his 2017 performance. In Manipur, where the Congress held office for three terms between 2002 and 2017, the party is poised to finish behind the Janata Dal (United) and the rising regional force, the National People’s Party (NPP). Goa was seen as an election for the Congress to lose, and it has lost it. Unlike in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2018, the Congress local leadership in these states could not check the BJP’s “double-engine” campaign, led by PM Modi and CM Yogi and backed by an energetic party machinery.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, and many in the Congress have read it. Some left what they felt was a sinking ship whereas others — for instance, the G-23 – still hoped to make the leadership address the crisis. The fact is the family has outlived its political utility and is now a burden for the Congress: Its continuance at the party’s helm reflects a sense of entitlement that alienates a young and aspirational electorate, and gives the party a jaded look. The voters have moved on from the Nehru-Gandhi family, it’s time the party did too.

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First published on: 10-03-2022 at 08:57:18 pm
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