2 days before the results to the Loksabha polls were announced the Congress party bade farewell to the outgoing Prime Minister. The one strikingly missing person was Rahul Gandhi, the Vice-President of the party. He was not sick, he was not engaged in any other serious party work. He was absent because he went abroad on a few days holiday.
To whom did he ‘apply’ for leave? Not to PM of course because Rahul did not work under him. He would have ‘applied’ for leave to the party President, Sonia Gandhi, his mother.
There was no question that his leave would be turned down. It was a family permission so to say, never mind the breathless anxiety of the Congress party and its countless supporters across the country awaiting the results, not to speak of minimum courtesy expected of him befitting the occasion.
As Manini Bhattacharya of The Telegraph wrote, “…he (Rahul) has to shed his “now you see me, now you don’t” style, shed his brand of “power is poison” reluctant politics and acquire just a little of the hunger and ambition and stamina and energy of a Narendra Modi.”
Watching Rahul campaigning on TV it was clear he lacked genuine efforts to fight. Could he not have fought knowing well that odds were stacked against him? He simply didn’t.
Facing the same odds Mamata Banerjee did exceptionally well. But credit must go to Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for braving not only the Modi wave but also Mamata’s mini tsunami. He not only secured a victory margin of nearly 3.5 lakh votes for himself, he ensured that Congress retained its seats barring 2 which they lost narrowly.
It is simple. He must try. People trust someone who tries.
Rahul Gandhi is not a good enough trier. He is a reluctant politician. He escapes responsibility. One shudders to think what his role will now be in the Parliament where both he and Sonia Gandhi will face relentless hostile onslaught from the new ruling dispensation.
Can the Congress party pull itself up from the deepest abyss it is in? It is very unlikely because to do that it must have a leader who has the courage to face the reality and is ready to take the challenge of revival head on.
Sadly it doesn’t seem to have any.
Let me crunch some figures.
The figures below depict Congress’ fortune in the 16 general elections that have been held since the country became a republic (source: Wikipedia). The decline of seats for the party is 162 from the last elections in 2009. But this is not the steepest decline contrary to what many believe.
In 1977 the party’s tally reduced by 199 though it regained 198 of them in the next elections in 1980. The maximum drubbing that Congress faced was in 1989 elections when its tally nosedived by 218 to 197 seats.
What is more alarming is that the vote share of the party has been steadily declining over the years. Now after the recent elections it stands at 19.3% which is the lowest since the Independence.
Top image courtesy: Wikimedia