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Does the Congress party remain history?

The downfall Congress has seen in the last decade has been worse than what it saw after the emergency. After being a ruling party for two complete terms, it has now shrunk to such an extent that it cannot form an opposition.

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congress party, lok sabha, lok sabha elections, congress, rahul, sonia gandhi, priyanka gandhi

Unfortunately, Congress, the oldest political party in India, which had led India from the central stage for almost six decades, is now sinking brutally. The Congress suffered due to various political bloopers in the past timeline, which has led it to battle for its existence. Congress lacks ideology; Congress has been misrepresenting both the right and left stances, which has led to nothing but criticism of its party members. In the 80s, Indira Gandhi was successful in marketing her left-wing stance to the general populace, but since the BJP is in power with a firm Hindutva stance, the Congress is shifting towards the right stance and that has not only annoyed the cadre that supports Congress for its core ideals but also led to the party being taken as an ounce of salt by the masses.

The biggest reason for the Congress’s downfall is sentiments against “Hinduism” and “nationalism.” They have given these keywords to the BJP and hence the votes of most Hindus go to the saffron party. Since 2014, the scenario has been such that the nationalist voters gave their devoted votes to Modi, which is why even with less than 50 per cent of vote shares, the BJP could move the carpet. Many Congress veterans left the party and on the other hand, many tall leaders of different parties joined the BJP.

With the Lok Sabha elections nearing, the year has witnessed the departure of leaders from their respective parties citing multiple reasons, including negligence, differences in vision or ideology, and future gains, among others. The Gujarat Congress started suffering with the exit of former state party chief Arjun Modhwadia, which is just a glitch in the spectrum of leaders who have jumped on the political bandwagon.

The downfall Congress has seen in the last decade has been worse than what it saw after the emergency. After being a ruling party for two complete terms, it has now shrunk to such an extent that it cannot form an opposition. From a party with 404 seats in 1984, it has failed in the last two elections to cross the double-digit mark and has hardly been able to cross the half-century mark.

Arjun Modhwadia, former Gujarat Congress chief, is the latest in the line of leaders who quit the party, resigning just days before Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered the state. He felt “suffocated” and that ending his 40-year association with the Congress was a “respite.” Modhwadia, who was a sitting MLA and a prominent OBC face, has been among the most vocal critics of the BJP-led Gujarat government over the years, first as the Leader of the Opposition from 2004 to 2007 and then as the president of the GPCC from 2010 to 2014.

Ambarish Der Gujarat Congress Working President and former Rajula MLA Ambarish Der also quit the party with Modhwadia, citing the Congress leadership turning down the invitation to attend the Ram Temple consecration in Ayodhya in January for his decision. Der announced that he would be joining the BJP, saying it was necessary to differentiate between the work of a political party and an NGO. Veteran leader Tapas Roy (67) announced he was leaving the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on March 4, declaring himself a “free bird.” Roy’s political sojourn began in Kolkata’s Surendranath College with the student organisation of the Congress in West Bengal, the Chhatra Parishad (CP). On a Congress ticket, he entered the state assembly in 1996 by winning a by-election from the erstwhile Vidyasagar segment in central Kolkata. Having joined the TMC in 2000, Roy was elected to the Assembly for the first time the next year, from Barabazar, before winning three times on the trot from Baranagar starting in 2011.

In one of the major setbacks to the Congress in Maharashtra, former chief minister Ashok Chavan quit the party to join the BJP. He said it was his personal decision to quit the party. He was with the Congress from birth. Chavan wanted to become the state unit president and had expressed this to the party leadership. “However, the party leadership wanted to stick with an OBC face ahead of general elections and all equations went haywire.

Deora’s were Congress loyalists for ages, but Milind Deora quit the Congress to join the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena. Deora was worried about the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat, which he has contested the last four elections and represented from 2004 to 2014, going to the Shiv Sena (UBT) of Uddhav Thackeray, who is now the Congress’s ally. Deora lost Mumbai South to the Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant in 2014 and 2019, abruptly quitting as the Mumbai Congress president in the middle of the Lok Sabha campaign to focus on his efforts to win back the constituency.

Mumbai Congress’s high-profile face from the swank Bandra belt, Baba Siddique, joined the NCP faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Announcing his resignation on X, former minister and three-time MLA Siddique, 66, said: “I joined the Indian National Congress party as a young teenager and it has been a significant journey lasting 48 years.

Congress’s only MP from Jharkhand and the wife of former CM Madhu Koda, Geeta Koda, quit the party to join the BJP. Her exit has left the Congress-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) ruling alliance with only one MP—Vijay Hansdak—from the state. Then comes the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ambedkar Nagar MP, Ritesh Pandey, who resigned, alleging neglect, and joined the BJP. 

Congress’s C. J. Chavda offered his resignation as the MLA from north Gujarat’s Bijapur constituency and is likely to join the BJP. Chavda, a three-time MLA, is a veteran Congress leader who held the post of chief whip in the previous Assembly when he was elected from the Gandhinagar North constituency. In 2022, Chavda changed his constituency and contested from Vijapur in Mehsana district. Chavda was also elected to the Gujarat Assembly from the Gandhinagar constituency in 2002.

Nagarkurnool MP Pothuganti Ramulu of the Bharat Rashtra Samiti joined the BJP along with his son Bharat Prasad. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ramulu said his decision was guided by the voters’ sentiments ahead of the parliamentary elections. Former BRS MP BB Patil from Zaheerabad also joined the BJP and has been fielded from the same constituency in the Lok Sabha elections by the saffron party. Although his exit jolted the BRS, the two-time MP from Zaheerabad was not being considered for his seat by the party, sources say.

BRS MP from Telangana’s Peddapalli, Venkatesh Netha Borlakunta, joined the Congress. Borlakunta, a one-time MP elected in 2019, joined the party in New Delhi. He was reportedly unlikely to be renominated by the BRS. BRS leader Manne Jeevan Reddy also joined the Congress along with Venkatesh, with both leaders eyeing Congress tickets to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.  Reddy, a former member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams board, was welcomed by All India Congress Committee general secretary K. C. Venugopal and Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.

Assam Congress working president and former Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami resigned from the party, formally joining the Bharatiya Janata Party. Goswami wrote to Assam Congress president Bhupen Borah, tendering his resignation as the APCC working president as well as a member of the Indian National Congress. Another Assam Congress working president, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, and Mangaldoi MLA Basanta Das declared support for the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led BJP government.

Sreenivasulu Reddy Andhra Pradesh YSRCP MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy quit the party, citing “self-respect” issues. Sreenivasulu, whose son has turned ‘approver’ in the Delhi excise scam case, is the fifth YSRCP MP to exit the party over the past few weeks. Five leaders from the YSRCP, namely Vallabhaneni Balashowry (Machilipatnam MP), K Raghu Ramakrishna Raju (Narasapuram), Lavu Sri Krishnadevaraya (Narasaraopeta), Sanjeev Kumar (Kurnool), and V Prabhakar Reddy (Rajya Sabha MP), exited the party in February. While Balashowry has joined the Jana Sena Party (JSP), the others have already joined JSP ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Rajya Sabha MP and former five-term Lok Sabha MP from Chhota Udepur, Congress leader Naran Rathwa, and his son, Youth Congress leader Sangramsinh Rathwa, as well as Ahmedabad Congress leader Dharmendra Patel, joined the BJP in Gandhinagar. Former working president of the Maharashtra Congress and ex-MLA Basavraj Patil joined the ruling BJP. Patil, who hails from Latur district in Marathwada, has represented the Ausa assembly constituency in 2009 and 2014. He lost to the BJP’s Abhimanyu Pawar in 2019. Since then, despite being made the party’s working president, Patil has been inactive in the party’s functioning. Patil, a Lingayat leader from Marathwada, is likely to contest from the Dharashiv Lok Sabha constituency.

A day after being expelled from the Congress, former MP Sanjay Nirupam hit out at the grand old party and claimed there is “tremendous arrogance” in the party leadership. Nirupam claimed that Congress is now history and has no future and that the Maha Vikas Aghadi is a merger of three “sick units.” There are five power centres in the Congress: the three Gandhi family members, AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary K. C. Venugopal. There is news that the Congress leaders of Maharashtra, such as Nana Patole and others, are quitting Congress to join Ajit Pawar soon. Rahul Gandhi already lost his family seat in Amethi; this time he might even lose his Rahul Gandhi Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. Congress needs to set their party in order, or else they will become history in Indian politics.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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