THE Congress Thursday sought to put up a brave face saying the Gujarat results were “expected”, but there was deep disappointment in the party over losing its sixth Assembly elections in the state in a row.
While some heads are set to roll in the organisational reshuffle, the fact that Gujarat is the latest addition to a list of states where the party has not been in power for about two decades or more is set to dominate the party’s brainstorming session, “Chintan Baithak”, due in Jaipur in the third week of January.
The Congress lost power in Gujarat in 1995, in Uttar Pradesh in 1989, in Bihar in 1990, and in Tripura in 1993. It has been out of power in West Bengal for more than three decades barring the brief stint as the TMC’s junior ally. In Tamil Nadu, it has not come to power on its own for well over four decades.
Alarmingly for the party, as the Gujarat results showed, its leadership seems clueless about what it needs to do to stop being pushed to the political margins in such states.
The Congress had sought to put its best foot forward in Gujarat this time, offering doles, maintaining silence about the post-Godhra riots to avoid polarisation on communal lines, giving limited exposure to Rahul Gandhi to deny Modi the opportunity to turn it into a Rahul-versus-Modi election, keeping the focus of the campaign on development or the lack of it, denying tickets to those who had lost last two consecutive elections, among others.
But, nothing worked.
“What has also come as a big setback is the fact that people like (PCC chief) Arjun Modhvadia, (CLP leader) Shankersinh Gohil and the late Chimanbhai Patel’s son Siddharth Patel, who were emerging as the party’s faces in the state, lost. Frankly, we don’t know what to do next. Our leadership should discuss not just Gujarat but other states as well at the chintan baithak,” a senior Congress leader told The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Finance minister P Chidambaram said, “Congress has won in Himachal Pradesh. In Gujarat too, I think Congress is a winner. Congress has gained several seats and BJP has been contained, the last numbers that I saw...If the BJP does not cross 117 and Congress has improved its tally, Congress is a clear winner in Gujarat too.”
As for the BJP win, he told reporters, “That was expected. The government and