Congress, down to its lowest vote share in Delhi’s history, promises to be back
As trends came in, criticism of the Congress’ Delhi unit started gaining traction and many leaders called for “action” rather than introspection.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 17:05 IST
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, is on the verge of siting on the political margins in Delhi after it failed to win a single seat in Assembly elections this year.
The anger was palpable in the sharp critique offered by its leaders, which ranged from disconnect from the grassroots to delay in decision making.
“We welcome the mandate given by the people of Delhi with modesty and bowed heads. We are now more determined to revive the Congress from the grassroots,” party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press briefing after trends during counting of votes showed Congress is again staring at a duck in Delhi.
“It’s a new learning for us. The loss is not a disappointment for us, it has made us more determined,” added Surjewala.
A teetering election campaign, a leadership crisis and over-dependence on legacy appeared to be the reasons behind the party’s dismal show. It ran a nostalgia-steeped campaign for Delhi polls, centred around the development done by former chief minister Sheila Dikshit in her 15-year tenure as chief minister, which failed to enthuse voters.
As trends came in, criticism of the Congress’ Delhi unit started gaining traction and many leaders called for “action” rather than introspection.
Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill suggested that the party should avoid things like justifying defeat, finding happiness in the BJP’s defeat and telling itself that wins and losses are cyclic in elections.
Party MP Pratap Singh Bajwa said those against the BJP’s divisive politics had the option of either the AAP or the Congress, and they chose the former.
“One thing is for sure all parties that are winning state elections, it is because of a leader. If people have faith in the leader, that party wins. The BJP never had a face in Delhi. The Congress has to bring in an educated, young face (in Delhi) for the future and keep working hard,” he 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 summoned all the senior leaders in mid-January and asked them to contest the assembly elections but only a few agreed.
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.
“AICC and our Delhi unit have decided that we will redraw the party from scratch. And bring in a newer, fresher leadership and give them opportunities in the party,” said Surjewala on Tuesday. Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra and party’s campaign committee in-charge Kirti Azad said the party is down, but not out. “You will see our strength in the municipal elections in Delhi two years later,” said Azad.
The party got 24.55 per cent in 2013 Delhi Assembly election. In 2015, it was reduced to 9.7 per cent against the BJP’s 32.7 per cent and the AAP’s 54.34 per cent. It, however, could not win a single seat in Delhi and the trend continued in this Assembly election also. This year, Congress’ vote share shrunk to a meagre 4.26 per cent, it’s lowest ever in Delhi.