10 reasons Congress may not last till 2019 polls

The party is yet to groom a PM candidate who can give Modi a tough fight.

 |  6-minute read |   02-05-2016
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In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress party got a mere 44 seats. A bright aleck on Twitter stated that with the way they were going, they would get 0 in 2019. While that seems wildly optimistic for BJP supporters, the fact remains that with the Congress appears to be heading for total collapse by 2019.

Here are some of the reasons why:

406551-pti-sonia-rah_050216124438.jpg Funding to the Congress has hit an all-time low and their reserves are drying up.

1. Possible convictions by 2018: There are cases/investigations the following senior Congress leaders: Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Virbhadra Singh, Shashi Tharoor, Oommen Chandy, Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily, Ashok Chavan, Bhoopinder Singh Hooda. Phew! Add Robert Vadra and Karti Chidambaram to the mix.

Even if most of them end up in court and we get a few convictions (in the sessions' or CBI courts) by 2018-19, it will put Congress severely on the back foot and Modi can claim victory in his war against corruption. The biggest setback in recent times is the #AugustWestland scam which has named both Congress president Sonia and former PM Manmohan Singh.

In UPA-2 we were discussing Congress scams. In NDA-2 we are still discussing Congress scams.

2. You can't disrupt Parliament till 2019: So far, the biggest weapon in the Congress' arsenal has been to disrupt Parliament. The first time it happened, Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked extremely weak and the government seemed paralysed.

Then the law of diminishing returns set in and now everyone is fed up with the Congress. A group of industrialists (they usually remain neutral) even wrote to the president expressing concern over this when the GST was derailed.

If the Congress continues like this, they will totally lose support and the president may be forced to sign more ordinances and call joint sessions of Parliament to pass billstrue, thereby nullifying the grand old party.

3. Moneytrue. Moneytrue. Moneytrue: Funding to the Congress has hit an all-time low and their reserves are drying up. Twitter abounds with rumours of overdrafts and Congress leaders being told to contribute to party funds.

Either way this is the first time when it has not been able to maintain its financialtrue muscle while being in the Opposition.

4. Losing states one by one: When it lost power in 1977, 1989, 1996 and 1998, it still had the most MLAs in the land and the states always powered the party back to the Centre. This is the first time this is not the case.

The BJP has more MLAs than the Congress and this will not change in the upcoming Assembly elections because the BJP has very few MLAs in those states. If you look at the top 10 states by area, then BJP rules the top three (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra) closely followed by Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

Add its allies and we get Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh making it 7/10! The Congress has just 1/10 and may lose even that in 2018 (Karnataka). The states can no longer power the Centre.

It is also in danger of losing its next biggest state in the form of Kerala this year.

5. Vanishing in the Rajya Sabha: By 2016 end, the BJP will emerge as the single-largest party. In 2018, the BJP-Congress lead will widen even further.

Right now the BJP is sitting quiet in the LS because it's behind the Congress in the RS. Once BJP leads in both houses, it will be full steam ahead and the Congress will have its wings clipped.

6. President and vice president: Till the 2012 presidential elections, the Congress always dominated the electoral college. That's why BJP PM AB Vajpayee opted for the neutral APJ Abdul Kalam in 2002.

However in 2017, BJP will lead in the troika of LS, RS and state assemblies and therefore dominate the electoral college to push its own candidates. The vice president heads the RS, so it will dominate that too in 2017.

After that the Congress will have severely limited options.

7. Results by 2018: Power minister Piyush Goyal, infrastructure minister Nitin Gadkari and railway minister Suresh Prabhu are pushing full steam ahead. The results will be there for all to see in 2018-19.

The troika of Bijli-Sadak-Pani (electricity-roads-water) is finally winning elections. While "pani" is a local issue, the BJP may do it on Bijli-Sadak-Rail alone.

(Interestingly, even the pani part was covered well with the water-laden Jaldoot Express reaching drought-hit Latur in Maharashtra)

The Congress will find it tough to counter that, especially since governance is breaking down in Congress-ruled states.

8. PM candidate for 2019: Arvind Kejriwal thrashed Kiran Bedi in Delhi and Nitish Kumar thrashed Sushil Kumar Modi in Bihar in the 2015 state elections. But Modi thrashed them both in the LS polls in 2014.

In 2019 again the issue of the PM candidate will come and Rahul is no match for Modi. The Congress is not grooming anyone else either and no strong candidate to beat Modi can be produced overnight.

The TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor has always dominated Indian politics and that's why so many leaders get multiple terms even if they deliver just an average performance.

9. Modi is no rookie and will have a Mission 2019: As you can see, Congress' second half will be far worse than the first half when it comes to Modi's PM term. Also, Modi has won all the biggest electoral battles of his life (2002, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014).

Nobody knows what Modi does as he keeps his cards close to his chest and he's the shrewdest political operator in India. Modi's 2014 strategy decimated Congress to 44 seats. You can be sure he has a similar unknown strategy for 2019 for the Congress.

And finally but most importantly…

10. The Congress is not rebuilding itself: In 1977, Indira bid her time and struck when the right moment came. In 1989, the Congress broke the VP Singh government and strategically propped up Chandra Shekhar.

Even between 1998 and 2004, senior Congress leaders were busy plotting strategies while trying to return to power. Congress leaders are now jumping like headless chickens. An incident happens at Dadri, and Rahul rushes there.

An incident happens at Hyderabad, fly there immediately. Anti-India slogans are shouted at JNU, make a beeline for that too. There's no shadow cabinet. No grooming of leaders. No constructive building of the party. That's its biggest problem.

You could say that the Congress seems bent upon destroying itself. It's difficult to see how it will last till 2019 with this attitude and strategy.

Also read: Is Narendra Modi really like Nehru and Indira Gandhi?

Writer

Sunil Rajguru Sunil Rajguru @sunilrajguru

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

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