The Congress must revive itself in Telangana and AP
For a comeback, it must focus on areas where it still has a substantial vote share.Updated: Jun 10, 2019 08:04 IST
The decision of 12 of the 19 Congress MLAs in Telangana to merge with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is the latest crisis facing India’s Grand Old Party in the Telugu-speaking states. The Congress, which polled 29.5% votes in Telangana in the recent Lok Sabha polls and won three of the 17 seats in the state, had emerged as the main opposition party. The BJP got only 19.5% of the votes indicating a wider support base for Congress.
After a disastrous performance in the assembly polls held six months earlier in which it won a mere 19 of the 119 assembly seats, one would have assumed that the Congress would work towards consolidating its position in the state, following the surprisingly good performance in the LS polls. However the latest split only underscores the problems in the party. The absence of a strong regional level leadership, factionalism and rampant infighting combined with the Central leadership’s inexplicable neglect of party affairs in the state has led to its current predicament. With murmurs of one or two more of the remaining six MLAs looking for exit options, the Congress in Telangana is looking at a bleak future. In the other Telugu state of Andhra, it is in an even worser position with it polling fewer votes than NOTA. Historically, the Congress has never recovered in any state where its vote share has fallen below 20%. So a revival in AP looks difficult, if not impossible.
The Congress must remember that both UPA 1 and UPA 2 were made possible because of the support the party had traditionally received in the (then undivided) Telugu states. In the 2004 general elections, of the 145 seats the Congress won, 29 came from AP. This rose to 33 of the 206 it won in 2009. While the decision by a substantial portion of legislators to split and merge with the TRS is a recent development, the crisis had been brewing for months. The party’s central leadership should have rushed senior leaders and troubleshooters to sort issues out. If the Congress is looking at a national revival, it should focus on states like Telangana where it still has a substantial vote share. Not doing that would be foolhardy.
First Published: Jun 10, 2019 08:04 IST