You would imagine a historic rout like the one the Indian National Congress has just suffered couldn’t be attributed to just one factor. You're right. As India’s Grand Old Party struggles to come to terms with the fact that it didn’t manage to win even 10% of the seats in the Lok Sabha, fingers are being pointed in every possible direction.
Here’s what the Congress has blamed for its downfall so far.
1. Manmohan Singh (aka "Not Rahul")
On paper, the “communication strategy” is the official scapegoat for the party’s loss of more than 160 seats in the Lok Sabha, bringing it down from 206 seats to just 44. At the Congress Working Committee meeting last week, the party passed a unanimous resolution expressing faith in the leadership of president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi. It also passed a resolution criticising the aforementioned “communication strategy,” not of the party but of the government, i.e. Manmohan Singh.
“The government was not able to convey to the people about its programmes and all the good work it was doing,” said senior party leader Kamal Nath, after the results. His colleague, Jairam Ramesh, had nothing to say about the man who led the campaign — Rahul Gandhi — except to point out that he was “indefatigable".
If American marketing agency APCO can take some of the credit for making Narendra Modi the phenomenon he is, shouldn’t the equivalent on the Congress side embrace its fair share of the blame? Realising this, Congress leaders have turned their sights on Dentsu, the Japanese communication agency which carried out the party’s campaign, which is estimated to have cost Rs 600 crore.
“Dentsu cannot be absolved of the blame for the debacle,” a senior unnamed Congress leader told The Times of India. “They not only charged a premium for the creatives, but they also released ads at an abnormally high premium in connivance with various media houses.”
3. Communal forces
A small set of parties have for years used “communal forces” as shorthand for their opponents and as an explanation for why they might be tying up with other parties that they might otherwise prefer to stay away from. So what happens when said communal forces win the election? You begin to talk about polarisation.
“The Congress defeat and the BJP’s victory can be explained by large-scale polarisation of votes,” former petroleum minister Veerappa Moily told the Business Standard. “The Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh were the beginning and then Amit Shah was made in charge [of the BJP in the state]; secular parties, including the Congress, failed to respond. They [the BJP] succeeded in polarisation and it had a wave-like effect on the electorate of UP.”
4. The Aam Aadmi Party
As soon as the votes starting coming in on counting day, the talking heads on television started to face the obvious questions from anchors: why is the Congress doing so badly? The answer on offer at least during the early part of the day was AAP. Spokespersons across various channels said that they had lost the initiative to AAP, although later in the day, as the extent of the Congress rout became clear alongside AAP’s minimal success outside Punjab, this narrative started to disappear.
5. The media
For days on end in the run-up to the elections, people representing the Congress turned up on corporate-owned TV channels and in corporate-run newspapers, and blamed the corporate media for creating a non-existent wave. “Modi wave is a creation of the media,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. Confirmed former telecom minister Kapil Sibal, “There is no Modi wave. It is a creation of the media.” So when this creation ended up having made its way into reality, the Congress knew exactly who to blame for it.
6. Big business
If you’re going to go after the corporate media, might as well go to the root of the problem: the corporations. In a surprising move, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi made attacks on the business houses of Ambani and Adani one of the key planks of the latter part of his campaign, accusing — with little sense of irony — the BJP of indulging in crony capitalism. Congressmen and supporters everywhere insist all the corporations were behind Modi and that he bought the elections.
7. People advising Rahul
Rahul Gandhi was the face of the campaign, even if most politicians in the Congress have come out to insist that he should not be blamed for the way things turned out. Those willing to be slightly more adventurous have instead blamed “Team Rahul”: the group of advisors who the Gandhi scion brought in as part of his campaign efforts.
“A political party cannot be an NGO,” Congress leader RPN Singh told India Today. “It's fine to have people with degrees from the best colleges, but if they don't have a grassroots connect, they cannot be decision-makers. We must get rid of them.”
8. People who took advice of people advising Rahul
Some even went a few steps further, while still managing not to name Rahul Gandhi. Milind Deora, an ex-MP who was considered close to Rahul, was the first of the leaders to blame his team claiming they did not have their ear to the ground. He then went on to blame the advisee, without naming names.
“It is not the advisors alone,” he told the Indian Express. “The people who take the advice also have to bear responsibility. Those who gave advice and those who received the advice as also those who feel they can give better advice — all have to bear responsibility.”
9. People blaming Rahul
Unhappy about being made the target in this blame game, members of Team Rahul decided to use the media to clarify who they thought were at fault: all those who were blaming Team Rahul. Jitendra Singh, a member of this team, insisted that people like Milind Deora could not point fingers because he too gave advice to Rahul Gandhi.
"You [Deora] tweeted and Rahul followed, be it the ordinance on convicted MPs or Adarsh report,” Youth Congress chief Rajiv Satav told The Times of India. "You were yourself an advisor and you never questioned Rahul's advisors."
10. The ‘right wing’ of the party
Faced with a rival party that has won the biggest mandate in decades after campaigning on a political plank that moves away from welfarism and towards reforms, some Congress personnel have arrived at an unusual conclusion: they should have been more Leftist.
In the Indian Express, an aide of Rahul Gandhi insisted that the political blame lay with the “right wing” of the party, and insisted instead that it is time to move from Rao (as in PV Narasimha Rao, a former prime minister famous for economic reforms) to Nehru (i.e., Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister whose approach was studiously socialist). “The Congress does not know how to connect with the poor people anymore and we need to correct that,” he said.
The Israeli intelligence service managed to earn the suspicion of Congress general secretary Mohan Prakash. "On Monday at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, general secretary Mohan Prakash dropped a bombshell, revealing that Israeli intelligence Mossad was in league with the RSS since 2009 to bring down the UPA government," DNA reported.