In 2009 the Congress looked invincible. In 2010 people thought the CWG scam would eventually be brushed aside. The ruling party made a mess of it from 2011-12. But in 2013, they totally lost the plot and will have to do a tremendous amount of course correction to salvage 2014.
A look at all the things that went wrong for the Congress…
Sonia fading: Congress President Sonia Gandhi was seen as doing a pretty decent job from 2004-09, but that has fallen apart by now. Till 2012 there was hardly any criticism directly against her, but that is not so this year where many media articles have rubbished Sonianomics.
With each passing day, Sonia is looking like a spent force and doesn’t look like someone who will revive the Congress.
Pappu sinking: One of the biggest reasons for the current state of affairs of the Congress is that they have been unable to show a strong alternative to the Sonia-Manmohan regime. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi looks like a part-time politician who hardly attends Parliament and seems to be out of the country half the time.
But 2013 saw a new low as there were sparse crowds for Rahul’s rallies and in one people also started walking out leading to the peculiar sight of the then Chief Minister Shelia Dikshit pleading with crowds to stay back.
Modiphobia: The Congress knows that their governance has failed and they have absolutely no cover for the endless scams. They tried to shift the debate to say that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra is not the right choice and is a polarizing figure.
They were hoping to consolidate the so called “minority” and “secular” vote banks but that has backfired big time. Modi has got so much publicity that a Modi wave has set in.
Tower of Babel: The Congress spokespersons have as it is been loud and arrogant. But this year it got far worse. The only three politicians who at least made some sense in the form of Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken and Shashi Tharoor became totally incoherent thanks to them being told to defend Rahul and attack Modi.
Maken had the added embarrassment of defending an Ordinance that the Congress had been pushing only to see Rahul saying that it was nonsense and should be torn up. Then in true Orwellian style, Maken had to start defending the U-turn staunchly. Tharoor joined in on Twitter.
Populism goes bust: NREGA played a key role in the 2009 victory of the Congress. But then you can throw down your trump card only once in a game. The Congress has tried many things in this term too but it has all come to naught.
First there was the Land Bill, but that does not seem to be a vote catcher.
There’s Aadhar and cash transfer, but that is also no game changer. Finally there’s the Food Security Bill. But the problem is that it’s not new and some sort of food security already exists in most of the States in India. Populism has totally run out of steam.
Economy grim: The stock market may be rallying (and that too on hopes that Modi will become PM!), but there’s nothing to celebrate when it comes to the rest of the economy. World over this is usually the biggest factor during the elections.
The next six months look equally grim and this may be the tipping point for the Congress.
Scam nation: The Congress has not rid themselves of the taints of CWG, 2G, Coalgate etc. There were irritants throughout 2013 too. There was Choppergate, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had to quit this year in a scandal while there were also things like the Solar Scam to trouble Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Desperate times: Apart from things like Rahul calling the Congress-backed Ordinance nonsense, there were also things like a call on a ban opinions polls and even a protest against lotuses in ponds that could sway a voter towards the BJP!
These are signs of a party in total desperation.
Assembly rout: This probably is the final nail in the coffin. The Congress vote shares in the Assemblies are a low 43% for Chhattisgarh, a bad 25% for Madhya Pradesh and a pathetic around 11% for both Rajasthan and New Delhi.
One struggles to think of a worse showing in Assembly polls considering that the Congress was in power in two of these states and the principal Opposition in the other two!
That appears to be the final nail in the coffin and it looks like the Congress will be wiped out in 2014.
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