The outcome of the assembly elections on Tuesday, 11 December, worked as the elixir for the Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his supporters. Gandhi scion’s cheerleaders have started him projecting as a mass leader and the perfect challenger to PM Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress ecosystem has begun working in the direction to relaunch Rahul Gandhi again.
Exactly a year after he took over, @RahulGandhi has turned the tide for the Congress. He has got the brickbats, today he gets the credit. No Congress mukt bharat. But a lot of hard work lies ahead for the party in 2019, @narendramodi a formidable force
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) December 11, 2018
— pallavi ghosh (@_pallavighosh) December 11, 2018
Lesson for BJP from these results. India isn't ready for bold steps. Be incremental, don't upset anyone, don't try to ring in fundamental changes in a short time.
— Sreemoy Talukdar (@sreemoytalukdar) December 11, 2018
The Lutyens’ media is projecting the debacle of the BJP in Hindi heartland as the victory of Rahul Gandhi over PM Modi. However, the reality is completely different. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, anti-incumbency worked against the BJP. The BJP has been ruling the state since last 15 years and people wanted change so they decided to go for the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh Kamalnath and Jyotiraditya Scindia astutely led the Congress in the state and didn’t even hesitate to play soft Hindutva card. Kamalnath in Congress’ Madhya Pradesh manifesto included setting up cow shelters in every village panchayat, treatment of injured cows, last rites for dead cows, developing Ram Path, conservation of the Narmada that is considered holy by the Hindus. If analyzed deeply, one would realize that the Congress has lost the war of narratives to the BJP even after getting an edge over the BJP in the state assembly elections. However, considering the fact that BJP has been ruling the state for last 15 years, the margin of the loss is very thin, and the difference between the vote share of the Congress and the BJP is very narrow. So, there is no somersault as is being portrayed by the journalists of the Congress. Shivraj Singh is still very popular in the state, he is the one who transformed MP, but it is the arrogance of his ministers and state leadership coupled with other issues which contributed to BJP’s decline in the state. But still, Shivraj Singh gave a fierce fight and almost won it for the BJP
In Rajasthan, Youth leader Sachin Pilot work towards reviving the Congress party in the state after the rout in 2013 state assembly elections. Former CM Ashok Gehlot returned to the state with high confidence after successfully managing the election campaign for Congress in Gujarat. Under his tutelage, a significant improvement was noticed in Congress’ performance. The Congress ecosystem dubbed it a moral victory for the party and the Gandhi scion.
However, moral right to moral victory of the Congress in Gujarat goes to Ashok Gehlot (who was the campaign in charge). The combination of Youth and Experience paved the way for Congress’ success in Rajasthan. The BJP Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje’s dictatorial behavior further contributed to the success of Congress in the state. Her party cadres abhorred her behavior and people of Rajasthan were also angry with her. One interesting slogan was very popular in the state- ‘Modi tujhse bair nahi, Vasundhra teri Khair nahi’. People gave their verdict mainly on local issues like Anandpal encounter, Padmavat movie row, rural distress, unemployment etc. It’s Vasundhara Raje who is responsible for the debacle of the BJP in the state. In fact, PM Modi’s presence in Rajasthan assembly elections was the only saving grace for the saffron party in Rajasthan. The Congress party would be in fact disappointed that it failed to get landslide victory in the state. It was hoping to sweep Rajasthan completely but failed to do so.
In Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh surrendered completely in front of the monster of the anti-incumbency; his rule came to an end after 15 years. His ‘Chawal Wale Baba’ image didn’t work this time, he failed to reinvent himself, and he also failed to sell development works done by him. His son’ name in the Panama papers and charges of corruption against his cabinet ministers resulted in a serious setback to his clean image and prompted people to look for other options.
Mainly, anti-incumbency factor, arrogance of the BJP leaders, strong state Congress leadership is what caused the defeat of the saffron party in the Hindi heartland, and not Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. The Congress has not won elections in the Hindi heartland because of Rahul Gandhi but despite him. He is still the liability on the Congress party. The cheerleaders of the grand old party attempt to present Gandhi scion as Rahul Gandhi 2.0 is just laughable. They do the same thing after every election. Even the victory of the left parties in JNU is also projected as the defeat of PM Modi.
If Gujarat elections were a moral victory for the Congress and Rahul Gandhi then by the same twisted and absurd logic, the results of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state assembly elections are a moral victory for the BJP and its state leaders.
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