The mandate for the next prime minister of India is out, and it is time for the losing side to take stock of the situation as to what went wrong during the course of this election jamboree. The biggest setback has been attributed to the grand old party of this nation “The Indian National Congress”, the party has been robbed of its political dominance by the ‘Modi Tsunami” caused by anti-incumbency during the Congress rule. The Congress party has been restricted to 44 Lok Sabha seats and has significantly lost confidence of the electorate during this election season. The congress and its allies vote share has been caged to 23 % as compared to 38% for the BJP and its allies. Since its inception for more than a century, never ever has the veteran party felt so humiliated and shunned to its lowest ever electoral score.
So what reasons could be attributed to the ruin of the Congress party in general elections 2014? Why the Congress think-tanks did not see the common man uprising, which was so effectively claimed by the media? The foremost reason (Lets not talk of corruption and inflation, which has been parroted zillion times on this platform) one can comprehend and see clearly is the lack of effective leadership amongst the top brass of Congress. In a stark contrast to the ‘Planned’ election campaign of the rival BJP, Congress was left unattended by its core leadership.
Mr Rahul Gandhi was never projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the UPA, this turned out to be the death knell for the incumbent Congress Vice-President. On the other side, the BJP was on a step by step planned path to project Mr Modi (despite its internal conflicts) as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the NDA. Mr Gandhi was constantly attacked by the BJP top brass in every rally across the country. Though Mr Gandhi did start to retaliate vociferously, but by that time it was too late for the Gandhi scion to take effective cognizance of the changed mindset of the ‘Brain Washed Voter’. Mr Rahul Gandhi has been mired with protocols, surrounded by SPJ personnel, the congressman have a tough time for his approachability.
As the voices of dissent have started to propagate within the congress, the ‘rules of the game’ have to be amended to suit the humble congress worker, and aristocracy won’t fetch grass roots politicking. After Rajiv Gandhi, Congress has had leadership vacuum, though Sonia Gandhi was elevated to the position of Congress president, the post was never contested by other veteran congress dignitaries (for the record, the election for the Post of Congress President has been thing of the past), surely Congress has to move from dynastic rule to demographic rule. Rahul Gandhi was being ‘groomed’ to take the onus of the Congress party, but as the election results have shown; he failed miserably as a key poll strategist of the Congress (In 2012 UP Assembly elections to his strategy was negated and we saw the emergence of Samajwadi Party, which eventually formed the Government)
Things should have taken a U-turn, had Mr Gandhi has taken a key portfolio in Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet and thus performed under his aegis. He was hopelessly trying to rejuvenate the Congress bastion (mostly Amethi) and was virtually out of scheme of things for most of the time, though Mr Gandhi has retained his seat with more than 1 lakh votes (ln 2009 elections, he won by a comfortable 3.02 lakh vote margin), the trend speaks for itself. The second reason which contributed to the defeat of the UPA can be attributed to the ‘Media Usage”.
The BJP was signing the death warrant for Congress by effectively being present at every media conclave, be it print or electronic media. Humungous hours of media coverage were being beamed throughout million households every minute by way of ‘Live Election Rallies” and show-stop advertisements. One can rightfully analyze the amount of election spending the parties must have incurred so as to make no stone unturned for Mr Modi’s inevitable victory (On the election day in Delhi, every newspaper was carrying a full blown front page advertisement of Mr Modi’s claim to be the next Prime Minister), this sub-consciously skewed the mindset of the electorate and the ‘Modi-Wave” was on its way to erode the Congress establishment. Rahul Gandhi was conspicuous by his absence on media channels (though he did appear to make his points on the famous interview he gave to Mr Arnab Goswami of Times Now, which later turned out to be a laughing stock for him), compared to hours of beaming streams of Mr Modi’s Bhashan!
Thirdly, Mr Gandhi was also out cast from his physical presence in the election rallies. By one account since September 2013 (When Mr Modi was ‘officially’ publicized as the Prime Ministerial Candidature for the UPA) Mr Modi has done 440+ rallies and travelled more than 1 lakh kms to make his presence felt. This in itself shows the commitment of the man who meant business. Compared to Mr Modi’s effort, the congress Vice president was at his minimal best and his speeches lacked captivating thoughts and ideas and his political aloofness was benchmarked every now on then by his ‘Statistical Mistakes’ on election podiums. Now that elections are over, the congress should do the ‘Manthan’ for its humiliation at the hands of the opponents (the best part which Mr Gandhi contributed towards the party was that he quite ‘Gracefully Accepted” the defeat and took the onus upon himself). As they say there are no clear losers or winners in politics, today if it is the NDA, tomorrow it could be the return of the UPA, but for the 5 years, which the electorate has given to the ‘Shehzada’, it is time to re-organize and learn from the mistakes, rather than go on anonymous sabbaticals, if that becomes a case too often, in every possible stance, it would be Mrs Priyanka Gandhi, who would be the ‘face of the Congress’ for 2019 general elections, till then Mr Rahul Gandhi has a long way to go and it is never too late to start afresh!
By Sanjeev Jaggi
Image Source: IANS