In Congress’s success, a mix of energy and experience
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In Congress’s success, a mix of energy and experience

At the same time, the Grand Old Party has to remember that political victory did not come as a result of electoral victory

editorials Updated: May 24, 2018 17:57 IST
Hindustan Times
Congress supporters raise posters of party president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) chief HD Kumarswamy after Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa announced his resignation, in New Delhi, May 19 (PTI)

The Congress suffered an electoral setback in Karnataka. But it emerged politically victorious if judged against its key goal -- of keeping the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power. By offering quick support to the Janata Dal (Secular), it cobbled together the numbers. By legally challenging the Governor’s decision to invite the BJP, it ensured that BS Yeddyuruppa only had a day to prove his majority. By ensuring that its own legislators stayed together, it prevented the BJP from getting the numbers. By releasing tapes of conversations where the BJP was allegedly seeking to lure its MLAs with financial incentives, it went on the offensive. Eventually, Mr Yeddyuruppa resigned. The Opposition, after the Karnataka developments, is energised and believes it may have found a model to take on the BJP in 2019.

The Congress’s success was due to two broad factors, which, in a way, reflects the change underway in the party. Party president Rahul Gandhi displayed both clarity and aggression. He is understood to have clearly laid out what the party would do in different scenarios — including supporting the JD(S), with which it fought a bitter election. Gandhi did not let ego come in his way and decided to support a party which was just half the size of his own. It was on his direction that the party machine got its act together. At the same time, the party’s experienced old guard held it all together on the ground. It was Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot who stationed themselves in Bengaluru, used old connections with the JD(S) and kept the alliance together. It was Abhishek Manu Singhvi — who in consultation with Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and other senior leaders — who led the legal challenge in the court. Both the senior and younger leaders came together to launch a strong social media offensive against the BJP as well. All of this should bring cheer to the long demoralised Congress. But at the same time, the party has to remember that political victory did not come as a result of electoral victory. And that has to be the core goal for any party.

First Published: May 24, 2018 17:55 IST