The way the Congress fought the just ended Rajya Sabha elections is a good illustration of how not to take part in an electoral contest.The party, which has been out of power at the Centre since 2014, showed no intention to wage a tough fight against the ruling dispensation headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, except to an extent in Rajasthan. To start with, the Congress put up outsiders as its candidates in several crucial states. This was despite the constitutional understanding that the Rajya Sabha members are supposed to represent the states. In some states, all the nominees were from outside.
The result was that the candidates did not get the crucial local support in closely fought contests. A result of this could be seen in Haryana where the Party nominee Ajay Maken lost in a tight race. The Congress also failed to bring around other opposition parties, where their role was crucial. This could be seen clearly in Karnataka, where the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular fought separately, resulting in the BJP winning an additional seat from the state. The Congress miscalculations in the Rajya Sabha elections resulted in the party winning only nine seats in this round of biannual elections when it could have won 10 or 11 seats.
What should be worrying for the Congress is that the debacle comes just before the Presidential election in July this year. The ruling dispensation does not have a clear edge in the electoral college for the presidential election. If the opposition parties combine effectively, they can very well have a person of their choice as the next inhabitant of Rashtrapati Bhavan. There is still time for the Congress and other opposition parties to ponder over the outcome of the Rajya Sabha elections and chalk out a winning strategy for next month’s presidential polls. Otherwise, they would be just helping strengthen the BJP’s grip on power.
(Writer is a political analyst)