Hungry to win

In 1951, the Congress won 388 seats out of 430 in the first elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. In 2022, it lost the deposit in 387 seats, winning just two. The vote share of 47.93 per cent then stands reduced to a few decimals over two per cent. Does that define irrelevance? Losing seats is part of electoral politics. Losing votes is an existential question. No leader would want to be in the shoes of Sonia Gandhi and her children today. The media and the social media speak of it in derision. For a party that swept to power in two general elections because of sympathy — not developmental work — it faces public ridicule today. For a party that was the spine of the freedom movement, it surely deserves a better fate. But politics is a game of fatalities, facts and successes. Whatever initiative the “high command” now takes to stem the rot seeping in may prove inadequate. The BJP is already on the Gujarat election bandwagon even as Congress is yet to reach the starting block. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Ahmedabad the day after the results, the meeting with his mother going viral on social media. In the next 48 hours, a newspaper report informs us, he held three road shows, talked to State party leaders about the coming Assembly elections in Gujarat later this year, addressed thousands of Panchayat Raj representatives, attended the convocation of a university and inaugurated a State-level sports tournament. And that is when BJP is ruling the State.

On the other hand, Gujarat Congress legislators are eager to meet Rahul Gandhi to discuss poll strategy. They wrote to the “high command” that the party cadre is demoralised and exiting in the absence of a strategy to counter BJP. Rahul is officially yet to even respond. That is how the two national political rivals differ in their approaches to elections. Gujarat must be farthest from the mind of the Congress Working Committee which has first to tackle, and as usual quell, any challenge to the “high command”. The reasons for the UP fiasco will be probed, which is also the usual routine. The fate of that report will be no different from a lot of such reports in the past. A panel probed the reasons for the party’s dismal performance in the last round of Assembly elections. It was never made public, and there is no evidence that the “high command” ever acted on the recommendations. The party is in a permanent state of a slide. Everything it does boomerangs. Transparency and course correction are absent. Despite the latest political tumult, the “high command” will unhurriedly follow a set pattern. Its organisational elections will be the priority. For, an elected “high command” needs to replace the interim one. The only thing left to be seen is whether a change in the composition of the “high command” improves the party’s fortunes.