Congress party is facing its biggest existential crisis ever. The party for the second consecutive election has won record low number of seats. It is unlikely to get even the Leader of Opposition status for 2nd time in a row. The Congress party was in a direct fight with BJP on 186 Seats, where it lost 171, winning only 15. Rahul owing up to the defeat has offered to resign as Party President. Congress party which cannot live without a Gandhi scion at the top is resisting any such move and wants Rahul to continue. Rahul is adamant and has asked the party to search for a new President.
While it is a good move, it is not devoid of risks as Lalu Yadav put up in an article for Telegraph. The party may split as happened during Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri’s time with various disgruntled leaders like Arjun Singh, ND Tiwari, MadhavraoScindia forming their own parties. The party doesn’t have a clear second leadership and many leaders are vying for the top slot which adds to the troubles. But do they have anybody who will be accepted by all the factions and take on Modi 2.0 is a key question.
Just one chart explains the troubles of Congress. The votes received by the party in 2019 (under Rahul) is the same as in 1989 (under Rajiv) while the total votes polled in the elections have doubled from 31 crores to 61 crores during the same period.
Votes Polled By Congress Party In Last Three Decades
There are five things which Congress must do to arrest the decline in its vote share and defeat the Congress-mukt-Bharat plan of BJP and RSS.
- Rahul as Leader in Lok Sabha, Someone else as Party President
This will lead to division of responsibilities and reduce the burden on Rahul. While he will be tasked with exposing BJP’s failures in the Parliament, the President can focus on strengthening the party organization. The party president can travel through the length and breadth of the country putting the house in order.Rahul, can then focus on the bigger picture, policies and programs and present an alternate view to countrymen of Congress ideology and philosophy.
The party has failed to corner the BJP in the Parliament giving them a free run for five years. Since the proceedings are televised live, it reaches a bigger audience. Some of the past speeches by Rahul have been appreciated by the people of the country.
- Create a MargdarshakMandal on the lines of BJP
The party badly needs a margdarshakmandal. The CWC, the highest decision-making body is full of Indira-Rajiv-Sonia loyalists, many people above the age of 70, like Motilal Vora, Manmohan etc. They are out of sync with a young country as India. They need to be removed from CWC and put up in a think tank or advisory kind of committee. LoP and President can seek their help and advice on matters they require. An age limit can be put like in BJP, anybody above 75 and part of CWC will be moved to this mandal.
- Dismantle CWC, replace with young blood
The highest decision-making body needs to be dismantled all together. It is full of people with no mass base. It even has people who are not members of any house of Parliament. It is a very large body (53 members including permanent and special invitees) versus BJP’s Parliamentary Party Board strength of 12. The average age of CWC is 69 versus 60 for CPM Politburo and 57 of BJP Parliamentary Board.
It also consists of many dynasts including the Gandhi siblings, Gogois (father-son duo), Scindia, son of late Jitiendra Prasad, daughter of late Santosh Mohan Dev, late Jagjivan Ram’s daughter and former CM Bhajan Lal’s son. A popular leader, deputy CM of Rajasthan and one touted to replace Rahul, Sachin Pilot is not a member of CWC. When Rahul became President, it was expected that he would correct the imbalances in CWC, but he made only cosmetic changes.
- Increase Women, Dalit and Minority members
The party preaches secularism but has not developed tall Muslim leaders. It is now even being accused by the members of the community of doing lip service and not providing proper representation. The Muslims vote is split between Congress and regional parties nationally. Only 7% of party candidates were Muslims while their population is 14% national. The party has only 3 leaders from community in CWC while as per proportional representation it should be 7.
The party promised 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament. In CWC it has only 17% women members, half of what is promised. It has to first of all set an example. It needs to induct more women and minority / dalit community leaders in the CWC. After all, Brahmins, Dalits and Minorities used to be its traditional vote-bank.
- Build new voting block
The chart above shows it has not been able to add a single vote block to its anchor voting segments. In-fact it has lost Brahmins to BJP (kamandal) and OBCs (mandal) to regional outfits of Janata Dal and BJP. It has also lost sizeable section of minority votes to regional satraps and dalit votes to BSP. In the wake of new voting patterns emerging, people voting across caste / class lines (especially youth), women coming out in large numbers and voting on their own and first-time voters coming into the elections space without any baggage, new strategies and targeting need to be employed.
To sum up, Congress is by default the number two party in India and whenever people find an alternative, they vote for the grand old party like in three Hindi heartland states late last year. But it also has to be wary of one thing. It has been receiving 25%-35% vote share in many states without winning a single seat. Its voter in those states may grow impatient and start looking for alternatives to defeat the BJP. The sooner it realizes the better for the party…
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