Maharashtra Haryana poll ends, The result of the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana and by-polls in some cases, including Gujarat, is required to give the much-needed boost to the Congress’s efforts to overcome the difficulties encountered by it after the failure in this year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Contrary to what political commentators and exit polls prophesied, the Congress has done fine in Haryana, along with its partner, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), put up some fight in Maharashtra.
Soon after its hammering in the general elections, the Congress plunged into a capacity crisis when its former leader Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post on May 25 at a conference of its highest conclusion making a body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC). For over 2-months, the party was in a state of excitement with Rahul Gandhi’s opposition to withdraw his resignation. On August 10, the CWC ordered the party’s longest-serving chief Sonia Gandhi to retake the Congress’s leadership.
The advantage for Sonia Gandhi was to set the organisation in order in poll-bound Haryana, where previous chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, 72, had raised a standard of revolt. He was threatening to form his party if the power in the state was not changed immediately. Finally, Ashok Tanwar, 43, was followed with former Union minister Kumari Selja, 57, as the state Congress chief on September 4. Hooda was invited to take care of the party’s poll management.
In 47 days, Hooda and Selja not only made the Congress back into contention but also came within opposing distance of ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the government. The party won 31 seats-16 more than it had bagged in 2014.
According to political critics, Jats, Muslims, and Dalits have united behind the Congress & that the party should done had Hooda been given some more time.
“Hooda was not given enough time to bring other castes into his party’s fold. Tanwar, with no second base, was given a long rope. Not only did he lose in creating a social base of his own but also could not join the party. It was a big mistake and determined harmful for the Congress,” stated Rajendra Sharma, who heads the political sciences division at Rohtak’s Maharishi Dayanand University.
“There is a lesson for Congress. It has to give up its status quo approach and move fast in terms of decision-making,” he added.
In Maharashtra, the Congress’s organisational structure, it is fighting spirit, and the election machinery appeared to be missing on the ground. The state leadership was in disarray as many of its senior leaders, including Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Harshwardhan Patil, defected to the BJP in the run-up to the polls. Others, like Sanjay Nirupam, refused to campaign.
Maharashtra Haryana poll ends, This was also perhaps the first time Congress NCP came 1999 that the former ceded the role of the bigger party in the alliance to the NCP. Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief, led from the front against the BJP-Shiv Sena combine.
In Maharashtra, the election was mainly between the ruling coalition versus Pawar, who will turn 79 this December. Prime Minister Modi & BJP chief Amit Shah primarily targeted him in their public rallies. A video of Pawar delivering his election speech in driving rain become a hit on social media.
The Enforcement Directorate’s case against Pawar and his nephew, Ajit, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act allegedly in connection with the Maharashtra state cooperative bank scam appeared also to have worked in the NCP’s leader’s favour. What seemed till then a one-sided contest in support of the ruling coalition suddenly became interesting. It provided much-needed momentum to the NCP.
Even defections could not do much damage to the NCP. The party retained the Satara Lok Sabha seat in a by-election.