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From Sheila Dikshit’s Heyday To The Clueless Congress Of The Gandhis

Sheila Dikshit Heyday

The Congress party scored another blank in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, with its vote share collapsing to 4% of the overall votes. The party polled half of the votes it had garnered in the 2015 Assembly elections, and was a sharp drop of over 18 percentage points from the 22% plus votes it had garnered during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the usual platitudes apart, there was no sense of remorse during their press conference. “We will introspect at some later stage” seemed to be the mantra of the party’s Delhi unit, reflecting lack of interest in dealing with the truth.

Delhi Stalwarts Could Not Even Make A Dent

Many stalwarts of the Congress party from the Sheila Dikshit era could not even make a dent in their respective constituencies. Former Health Minister of Delhi Dr. Ashok Kumar Walia, who was a well-recognized face in East Delhi, could barely manage 3.5% of the votes in Krishna Nagar. Similarly, former Minister for Industrial Development Haroon Yousuf, managed 5% of the votes. Krishna Tirath, another stalwart in the Delhi Congress and one-time Social Welfare Minister, fared just as bad, polling only 2.8% of the votes. In the Gandhi Nagar constituency, former Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely still fared better, polling about 20% of the votes.

Moral Responsibility Taken By Others

As is the usual case though, the Delhi Congress head Subhash Chopra and campaign manager Kirti Azad took the moral responsibility for the party’s defeat, and offered to resign from their posts. There is no effort to ask uncomfortable questions within the party on the strategy adopted, or the efforts put in by its tall leaders and the statements made by them during their rallies that may have dented whatever chances Congress had in a few seats in Delhi.

The ostrich mentality was on full display, as party spokespersons P C Chacko and Randeep Surjewala expressed happiness over the ‘defeat of BJP’s polarization attempts’ instead of displaying serious introspection on their own part.

Its central leadership baffled everyone further by their reactions. Leader of the Opposition and MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury congratulated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying it was a vote for development.

Tactical Vote Transfer By The Congress? Observer Says So

Journalist who covers the Congress Pallavi Ghosh has stated that this tactical retreat of the Congress was short sighted, and will harm the party in the long run. She also painted a bleak picture for the party’s revival in Delhi, noting how the vote share dipping below 20% eliminates the chances of the party’s revival.

In fact, Ghosh has written that this tactical retreat approach may be adopted by the Congress in upcoming elections in Bihar and West Bengal, seeing how it has hurt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi.

Gandhis – More Of A Liability On The Congress

Congress party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has being touted as the next big thing, with slogans like Desh ki Aandhi, Priyanka Gandhi! often being raised to underscore her importance. Rahul Gandhi has also been at it, being the star campaigner for the Congress in several seats in Delhi.

The results on display however were anything to be proud of. Congress candidates in the seats where Rahul and Priyanka had campaigned have performed very poorly. Barring one seat, the Congress candidates could barely garner 5% of the constituency’s votes.

Table 1: Results in Seats Where the Gandhis Campaigned

Campaigner Constituency Candidate Total Votes Polled by Candidate Percentage of Total Votes Polled by Candidate
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Rahul Gandhi

Sangam Vihar Poonam Azad 1563 2.06%
Rahul Gandhi Jangpura Tarvinder Singh Marwah 2858 10.94%
Rahul Gandhi Kondli Amrish Singh Gautam 4312 4.71%
Rahul Gandhi Malaviya Nagar Neetu Verma Soin 1403 3.91%
Rahul Gandhi Matia Mahal Mirza Javed Ali 2440 4.59%
Rahul Gandhi Chandni Chowk Alka Lamba 1234 4.08%
Rahul Gandhi Ballimaran Haroon Yousuf 3956 5.09%

Source: Election Commission results page for Delhi Assembly Elections 2020

It is noteworthy that the brother-sister duo had undertaken campaigning in very few seats this time, and were marked rather by their absence. The two had undertaken a Bharat Bachao Rally on 14 December 2019 against the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Parliament.

Interestingly, it was in the Matia Mahal rally that the Congress party MP Rahul Gandhi had made disparaging remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying people will beat him with sticks in another six months if he doesn’t address the issue of unemployment.

During Sheila Dikshit’s heydays, the Congress had scored over 40% of the vote in Delhi share under Sheila Dikshit in 2008, and had in fact seen three full terms. Today however, the Congress has come down to a vote share of just 4%. This enough can tell the reader the direction in which the party has been taken under the leadership of the Gandhis, who for their own expediency have ensured that those who could perhaps help arrest the party’s perpetual decline are sidelined instead of being accommodated.