New Delhi: Congress’ Rajeev Satav blamed ministers in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the party’s defeat in the 2014 general elections to protect Rahul Gandhi from any blame, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said in episode 538 of ‘Cut the Clutter’.
The Congress, however, did not even go to the polls based on the UPA’s performance, in both 2014 and 2019. Both these polls were contested by targeting Narendra Modi as a personality, so to blame the UPA governments now for the losses is a bit rich, Gupta said.
This is what happens when you are all-powerful and things go haywire under your watch — you find scapegoats.
People in Congress know they cannot get rid of the Gandhi family, as the Congress is owned by the Gandhis.
So, now, efforts are on to save Rahul Gandhi — who was the party president when Congress faced its defeat in 2019 — from any blame. Rahul cannot come back as someone who was guilty of Congress’ debacles, and therefore attempts are being made to find someone else to blame, Gupta said.
Interim president Sonia Gandhi has apparently let the party know that they must find a successor. Now, obviously this party cannot find a successor to Rahul and they have to find a way for him to come back.
He needs a face-saver. Someone else to blame and that someone else can only be the UPA, even though former prime minister Manmohan Singh will feel bad about this. But he has felt bad about many things and has a strong sense of loyalty. He will never complain about these things.
Manmohan Singh was dead man walking in UPA
Satav, in the party’s meeting of Rajya Sabha MPs last week, made loud insinuations that the Congress was in such a bad state because of the way the UPA and the party was managed at the time.
After these insinuations were made, several Congress leaders from Manish Tewari to Shashi Tharoor hit back saying that’s not correct.
Singh is known to be hurt over all of this, as he should be. It’s a bit strange because the same Congress party puts him in the front for everything because they know that when he says something, it immediately finds fuel because he has credibility.
But now, Congress is blaming Singh and UPA for the losses in 2014 and 2019.
In 2009, after the Congress party won the elections for the second time and Singh returned as PM, suddenly the hangers around the Gandhi family started telling them that Singh had grown too big for his boots — especially after he signed the 2009 Sharm El Sheikh declaration with Yusuf Raza Gillani, his Pakistani counterpart, where both of them issued a joint statement to fight terrorism together.
The party had strongly repudiated him then, and since that day, Singh, the prime minister, had been a dead man walking.
The party turned on its own government, and that is why UPA II suffered from an autoimmune disease — where a body turns its own enemy and starts damaging itself from inside — and we saw the rise of Rahul Gandhi as an insurgent within his own party, Gupta said.
Congress cannot be taken lightly
But does the Congress even matter?
If we look at the 2019 elections, in the seats that BJP and Congress contested against each other or where they were direct rivals, BJP’s strike rate is 92 per cent, which means of the hundred seats in which Congress and BJP bent up against each other, BJP won 92. That is tremendous.
Now, if we look at some specific states such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Congress won only eight seats and BJP won 245.
In the 2014 elections, BJP got 31 per cent of the national vote. In 2019, this number went up to 37.38 per cent. The Congress got 19.31 per cent of the votes in 2014, and in 2019 it got 19.55 per cent votes — a marginal increase.
But generally, you can say that the Congress did not get wiped out in 2019 and in fact, its vote percentage remained constant — it did not suffer further damage.
So the party may be weakened, but it still has this nearly 20 per cent committed vote, which it owns even in a complete disaster.
This tells you that the Congress cannot be taken lightly. That is something the BJP knows and that is something that Amit Shah and Narendra Modi know.
This is why they are constantly attacking the Congress, because when 20 per cent of the population are so committed to them, even in a second debacle, if the proportion becomes 25 or 26 per cent, it can make a big difference to who comes to power in India.
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