After Odisha bypoll, Congress loses both its plot and face

Every time there is a poll in Odisha, the Congress plumbs the depths of a new low. The latest comes in the wake of the Padampur by-election loss.

Published: 13th December 2022 12:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2022 12:44 AM   |  A+A-

BJP and Congress party flags

L-R: Flags of BJP and Congress parties. (File Photos | PTI)

Every time there is a poll in Odisha, the Congress plumbs the depths of a new low. The latest comes in the wake of the Padampur by-election loss. Calling its performance dismal would be an understatement, though. The party was expected to come third in the race but not by such a long distance. Its nominee, a three-time MLA from the Assembly segment, forfeited his deposit and now, the party is charged with willingly transferring its votes to the Biju Janata Dal. The BJP flung the accusation that there was a deal between the regional outfit and the Congress ahead of the bypoll. Coming from the saffron party, desperate to wrest back the seat, such an allegation only seemed natural after its defeat, but when a senior
Congress MLA weighed in with sort of an affirmative note, all hell broke loose.

If numbers tell a story, the Congress candidate who had secured a 16.25% vote share in 2019 managed just 1.73% in the bypoll, triggering wild speculations of an en bloc transfer of votes. That pretty much sums up the Congress’ story. Odisha is just an example of how the party lost its plot, and no one is interested in restoring the house. Once a stronghold where it ruled for nearly 38 of the last 71 years, the state has alienated the Congress big time. In 2000, when the BJD assumed power, the Congress enjoyed a vote share of 33.78%. First, it was the BJD which ate into its space and later, the BJP chewed up the rest, leaving it with a depleted vote share of 16.12% in 2019.

What has not helped is a combination of favouritism, incessant infighting, and the Central leadership’s lack of interest. Once helmed by tall leaders who had pan-India recognition, the Congress does not even have one who commands respect across the state. The party has not even groomed young leaders who can step up. That the high command recently chose to hand over the reins to one who was state unit chief way back in 2002 says it all. Rahul Gandhi may have been on the long road to reviving the party, but neither he nor AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge appear to know the malaise inflicting the states. Political parties evolve and reinvent themselves with time. The Congress seems to have found a reverse evolution button.

India Matters


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