As the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur drew to a close on Thursday, the Congress’ fast diminishing political fortunes was one of the major takeaways.
The grand old party could neither retain the one poll-bound state – Punjab – where it was in power, nor could it wrest power in the other four states. In all states except Uttarakhand, its vote share and number of seats plummeted.
Commenting on the results, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that he humbly accepts the people’s verdict.
“We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala acknowledged that the results of the elections were not as per the party’s expectations. He said that the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi will soon convene a meeting of its working committee to introspect on the results.
Nevertheless, as was the case after the Congress’ previous electoral defeats, voices from within the party seeking change are already starting to emerge.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said on Thursday evening that there was a need to “reform our organisational leadership”, and asserted that change was unavoidable for the party to succeed.
Tharoor, however, also said that it was “time to reaffirm the idea of India that the Congress has stood for and the positive agenda it offers the nation”.
Here is a state-wise overview of the performance of the Congress in the Assembly elections:
The Congress was never expected to be the main challenger to the BJP in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh election as the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party was the major contender.
However, the party’s footprint in India’s most populous state has shrunk further in the aftermath of Thursday’s election result. The Congress had won only two seats in the 403-member Assembly, and its vote share declined to less than 2.50%.
In comparison, the party had won seven seats and had garnered 6.25% of the vote in the 2017 elections.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party has won or is leading in 111 seats as of now, a significant rise from its 2017 tally of 47 seats. The party’s vote share has also increased to 32.03% from 21.82% in 2017.
Considering the numerical significance of Uttar Pradesh in national politics, the Congress’ decline in this state could be the one which would hurt it the most.
Notwithstanding the rise of the BJP to power in 2014, Punjab had been one north Indian state where the Congress had a substantial support base. For this reason, the party’s defeat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday would be a major cause of worry for it.
In the 2017 elections, the Congress had stormed to power by winning 77 seats and 38.5% of the vote share. In the recently-concluded election, the party could win only 18 seats, and its vote share shrunk to 22.98%.
Further, the party’s chief ministerial candidate Charanjit Singh Channi lost both the seats he contested – Bhadaur and Chamkaur Sahib – to the AAP. The Congress’ state chief Navjot Singh Sidhu also lost from the Amritsar East constituency.
With the defeat in Punjab, the Congress now faces the prospect of the AAP posing a serious challenge to its claim of being the driving force of the opposition at the national level.
In Uttarakhand, the Congress had history on its side, as the state had never voted an incumbent party back to power in the 21 years of its existence. Further, there had been much instability in the ranks of the BJP just months before the Assembly election.
When Pushkar Singh Dhami took oath as chief minister on July 4, he had become the third person to occupy the post in four months.
However, the Congress was unable to cash in on anti-incumbency and instability within the BJP. The party is ahead in only 19 seats in the 70-member Assembly, while the BJP crossed the majority mark comfortably and is ahead in a total of 47 seats.
The Congress’ most prominent state leader, Harish Rawat, could not win his own constituency of Lalkuan. Till October 22, Rawat was the Congress’ leader in charge of Punjab, and was closely involved in the turf war between Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
Nevertheless, Uttarakhand was the only state where the Congress’ vote and seat share increased this time. In the 2017 Assembly election, the party had won 11 constituencies, and had got a vote share of 33.5%.
The Congress’ vote share this time is 37.91%.
In 2017, the Congress had been unable to form the government in Goa despite having emerged as the single largest party.
This time, the Congress is well behind the BJP, and the saffron party appears set to retain power in the coastal state.
The BJP has won 20 seats in the 40-member Assembly, just one short of the majority mark of 21. On Thursday evening, party leader Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party in Goa had given a letter of support to it, according to ANI.
The Congress’ seat share has dropped to 11 from 17 in 2017, while its vote share has declined to 23.46% this time from 28.40% in 2017.
With the Trinamool Congress and AAP making serious attempts to corner the anti-BJP vote in the state, the Congress here faces the danger of losing political relevance rapidly.
Like Goa, the Congress had in 2017 emerged as the single largest party in Manipur but had failed to form the government. The BJP’s N Biren Singh had formed the government with the support of the National People’s Party and Naga People’s Front.
This time, the BJP has crossed the majority mark on its own and has won 32 seats, while the Congress has been left far behind at five seats.
The grand old party’s vote share has fallen precipitously from 35.1% in 2017 to 16.83% now.
The Congress now faces the prospect of being edged out by regional parties in the northeastern state.