Three consecutive losses in a state can make a party disintegrate -- or so the Congressmen in Madhya Pradesh believe. And the state Congress might just be staring at such an eventuality, notwithstanding the grand comeback of the BJP in Delhi after 15 years.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress had projected the 2013 elections as a “do-or-die” battle. But given the latest drubbing, the party is faced with a prospect of a wipeout, where a Kamal Nath or a Digvijaya Singh stand like an isolated pillar or two while a demoralised rank and file rapidly melt away.
It is doubtful if these isolated leaders would be able to rally the party after a 15-year hiatus.
For the moment, their clout does not stretch even to the extent of ensuring the victory of anyone apart from themselves or their family in their own turf. While Singh’s son Jaivardhan has won from the family bastion Raghogarh, a non-related party candidate stands little chance. Assembly seats within their Lok Sabha constituencies have been taken away by the BJP in bulk. And the results merely prove that however tall, calling such leaders regional satraps is to overshoot the facts. What brought the Congress to its knees in a state once considered a party bastion is the rampant factionalism.
Even this time, when senior BJP leader Uma Bharti had acknowledged that Jyotiraditya Scindia could have posed a serious challenge, the said challenge was undermined by the antagonism from Singh. In fact, the constant sniping and the occasional belligerence from Singh’s faction barely escaped anyone’s notice.
The party is loath to admit it. State Congress vice-president Rameshwar Neekhra, who played a key role in Congress’ election management, said, “There are certain things which I can’t share with you but we definitely failed to convey the message of unity among the electorate”.
The fallout was less than pleasant for the grass-roots level worker. And party vice-president Rahul Gandhi was right -- at least in the context of Madhya Pradesh - when he said in Bhopal before the polls that top leaders don’t lose anything if the party loses, but the workers do. It is the workers who needed to be nurtured, but it never happens, Gandhi had underscored.