Delhi assembly election results 2020: Congress falters again, yet to open its account
A senior Delhi Congress leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed over-dependence on the past for the party’s poor show.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 12:24 IST
A teetering election campaign, a leadership crisis and over-dependence on legacy appeared to be the reasons behind the Congress’ dismal show in early trends of the Delhi poll results, with the party failing to open its account till 11.20am on Tuesday.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi consecutively for 15 years from 1998 to 2013, was staring at a wipeout again after having failed to win any seat in the 2015 assembly elections in the national capital.
A senior Delhi Congress leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed over-dependence on the past for the party’s poor show.
The central theme of the Congress’ campaign was the “good work” accomplished by former chief minister Sheila Dikshit during her 15-year rule.
“We cannot fight an election based on past glory. Past is past and when we go back to the past, people immediately talk about increased electricity and water tariffs. We failed to convince the voters that we will perform better than AAP in terms of governance,” the leader cited above said.
That the party lacked the will to fight was evident from the day its senior leaders refused to contest the elections, citing lack of preparedness and paucity of time to campaign as their reasons.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had summoned all senior leaders in mid-January and asked them to contest the assembly elections but only a few agreed – former Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely was one of them.
The party also ran a lacklustre campaign. While the Congress president skipped the campaign due to health reasons, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed a few rallies towards the end of the campaigning period.
There were speculations that the Congress was deliberately leaving the field open for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at bay.
A section of the Congress expressed surprise at Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in Jaipur and Wayanad in the midst of the Delhi polls. The primary target of the former Congress chief in his rallies in the Capital was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Another senior functionary of the party said ceding the space to the AAP was like sounding the death knell for the Congress. He also cited the party’s declining graph in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
While its traditional vote bank shifted allegiance to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh, the party’s core support base rallied behind the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (United).
“Kejriwal is a bigger threat to us than Modi or BJP in the long run. He has national ambitions and in more and more places, he will cut into our votes. Moreover, he will now parrot the Delhi model of development. Modi became invincible because of the Gujarat model of development,” the Congress functionary said, asking not to be named.
Congress leaders, however, argue that the vote share in Delhi shifts strongly to different parties as compared to other states.
“Before 1998, it was the BJP in Delhi, then we came and ruled for 15 years and now Kejriwal is getting a third term. There is no permanent vote base. It shifts at regular intervals. See what happened in municipal elections after 2015 polls in which AAP won 67 out of 70 seats,” a party leader said.
He said the Congress should focus on the 2022 civic elections and hand over the state leadership to a credible and fresh face to give the voters a choice before the 2025 assembly polls.