The BJP is ecstatic that it has posted a historic win in Assam by getting 86 seats in the 126-member Assembly. The party is also happy with its geographical expansion: be it storming to power in Assam, or making inroads into Kerala, after Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the South, and the rising vote share in West Bengal.
However, for the Congress it is the onset of ‘Bure Din’ as the grand old party is going through its worst phase in the history of Independent India.
The Congress, which hogged centrestage in the national polity until two years ago, is finding it extremely difficult to find an answer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style of politics. It now has state governments which cover about 7 to 8 per cent of India’s population.
After getting wiped out from northern heartland, it is also out from the central and eastern parts. Other major states that are hubs of industrial activity including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, are now out of the Congress’ hold.
The biggest setback for the party was getting kicked out from Assam, after ruling it for 15 years, alongside Kerala.
As per the tenure of Congress-ruled states, the term of assemblies in Uttarakhand and Manipur will end by March 2017, followed by Himachal Pradesh in January 2018, Karnataka in May 2018, Meghalaya in March 2018 and Mizoram in December 2018.
If current indicators are to go by, things are not going to improve for the party in the upcoming polls in Punjab, UP and Gujarat.
In view of this, it looks like India is getting closer to the BJP’s slogan of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, well before the next general elections in the summer of 2019.
According to finance minister Arun Jaitley, “it’s an all-time high for us and an all-time low for Congress.”
Jaitley criticised Congress leaders for trying to “protect” and coming to the defence of Rahul Gandhi rather than giving local and rational reasons for the party’s debacle in these assembly polls.
For Congress it is right time that it puts its house in order. The cross-over of HB Sarma to BJP in Assam is one such reason that could inspire other Congress leaders to resent Rahul Gandhi’s man-management. Already, rumblings are audible in Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and poll-bound Punjab and UP. Moreover, with no signs of revival, any delay in Rahul Gandhi taking over as Congress president will only cement his image as a reluctant heir.