NEW DELHI: In the post-battle disaster scenario, the sight of fallen generals, Tarun Gogoi in Assam, Oommen Chandy in Kerala, bloodied, dispirited troops in retreat, the lost kingdoms and all of that highlight an obvious fact: It has, perhaps, never been this bad for the Congress. The Assembly poll results from five states on Thursday saw it dethroned in two, and woefully short in two others, leaving it with only Puducherry as a consolation prize.
The party has virtually been banished to the fringes of India’s political map — Karnataka is the only big State where it has a government, and even there, the spectre of BS Yeddyurappa, waiting-in-the-wings, looms. Addressing the media, BJP president Amit Shah said the country has moved a step closer to ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ and saw in the poll results an overwhelming victory for ‘politics of performance’.
The Congress-led UDF’s loss in Kerala could at least be put to the peculiar ‘pendulum swing’ the State always abides by, though the Chandy government had garnered enough disrepute. But it’s the loss in Assam, down from 78 seats in the last Assembly polls to 26, that’s crushing because it goes to the root of the problem: the leadership’s distance from a viable, credible mass politics. The BJP in comparison won 60 seats alone, and with allies AGP and BPF, has a rather impressive 86. The smart move of projecting a local leader paid off. Young and charming Sarbananda Sonowal is now all set to be the chief minister. AIUDF, led by Badruddin Ajmal who hoped to play the kingmaker and save Gogoi, ended up with 13 seats.
In West Bengal, the Congress-Left ‘joth’ (alliance) became ‘goth’ (a conspiracy), as the CPM’s Biman Bose quipped after his party was relegated to the third place. The Congress held the second runner’s up slot with 44 seats. Mamata Banerjee singularly decimated both as also the political relevance of her erstwhile party. She had managed 184 in 2011 with the Congress alliance but this time, her TMC alone got 206 seats — a neat two-third’s majority.
The coming months will offer little solace. The next milestone elections will be in 2017, in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.