The Congress faced an embarrassing defeat in Rajya Sabha election in Haryana last week. Votes of 14 Congress MLAs were cancelled as they used a wrong pen to mark their preferences. The Congress is livid with the BJP-controlled state machinery and called it a state-sponsored fraud.
At the same time, some leaders in the party are also pointing fingers at a section within the Congress establishment for this fiasco. Role of some leaders are not out of the realm of question.
But this is not the first time the Congress goofed up on its electoral prospects and handed over seats to the rivals. Here’s a look at other instances where the party suffered an embarrassing defeat due to own mistakes.
1. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had fielded Rajkumar Patel against BJP’s Sushma Swaraj in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. But Patel’s nomination was rejected by the district magistrate on the last day of filing nomination as he failed to submit ‘Form A’ in original. The Form is the only prove that the party has officially nominated a candidate to use its symbol for a seat. The result: Swaraj won the Vidisha seat virtually unchallenged.
Many eyebrows were raised in the Congress as the possibility of a secret deal between the BJP and Patel as the latter also went to file his papers without any lawyer, which could have averted such a situation.
2. If 2009 Lok Sabha poll saw the Congress virtually gifting Sushma Swaraj a seat in Vidisha, sabotage has been detected in neighbouring Chhattisgarh where a party nominee withdrew from a by-poll at the last moment, leaving the Congress in a lurch. A sting operation by a newspaper revealed that Congress candidate Manturam Pawar didn’t contest the Antagad by-election in 2015 even after getting party ticket as a part of the deal. The tapes of an alleged conversation between Congress satrap Ajit Jogi, his son Amit Jogi, chief minister Raman Singh’s son-in-law Puneet Gupta and others hint that the poll was fixed to benefit the BJP.
A red-faced Congress expelled Amit Jogi for six years. Ajit Jogi recently announced that he will form his new party even as the Congress claimed that the party will not be affected with Jogi’s exit.
3. In 2000, the official Congress nominee lost to a candidate who was backed by rival Trinamool Congress despite having sufficient numbers to win the poll. A furious Congress brass hauled up the party unit in West Bengal and then Congress state chief Somen Mitra’s political goodwill was severely damaged before the party’s central leadership. Trinamool had only 3 MLAs in the 294-strong West Bengal assembly, yet it managed to push a candidate in Rajya Sabha. the Congress candidate Debaprasad Roy got only 36 votes even as the party had 79 MLAs in the assembly. The en-mass cross voting exposed the chinks in the Congress armour and eventually more and more Congress leader quit the party to join Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.