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Congress Has Turned Into Its Own Enemy; With Leadership Crisis, Infighting and No Media Presence, Is the Grand Old Party Digging Its Own Grave?

Pragati Ratti Sharma

Assembly Elections 2019 in the states of Maharashtra and Haryana are going to take place on October 21. While the first opinion polls have given the Bharatiya Janata Party a clear majority in both the states, political pundits also believe that this time it's a given that it's going to BJP, clearly, in both the states. The Modi factor, BJP's victory in the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 are some factors that throw the game in BJP's favour. However, what's also going in BJP's favour is the lack of Opposition.

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The Congress party, which is the oldest political party of India, is in shambles. Many senior journalists on the social media have pointed out how with every passing election, the grand old party is turning into its own enemy. The party has been grappling with not just leadership crisis, but major infighting across states. Several Congress leaders, including some prominent names, have jumped ship over the past few months, leaving the Congress red-faced.

The Congress party received its first big jolt when Priyanka Chaturvedi quit. Chaturvedi, who was the party's face on national television as well as a prominent voice on social media, went on to join the Shiv Sena. She blamed Congress for not standing up for those who have served the party honestly for years. Sources had said that Chaturvedi was also upset over not getting a Lok Sabha election ticket, which many say was given to Urmila Matondkar, who was a new entrant to the Congress then. However, even that didn't work in favour of the Congress and Matondkar eventually ended up not just losing the election, but also quitting the party.

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On Thursday, the party's senior leader in Mumbai, Sanjay Nirupam, came out in the open and attacked former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, calling him "nikamma (useless)". Days before that, Aditi Singh, known as Rahul Gandhi's confidante, defied the party's special Assembly session boycott call and attended the Vidhan Sabha session called by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. There are now murmurs in the political circles that Singh may also be on her way out of the Congress. Sanjay Nirupam Reiterates Threat to Quit Congress Ahead of Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2019, Says 'Rahul Gandhi Loyalists Being Sidelined'.

The Congress party also lost hold of Karnataka with several MLAs turning rebels, resulting in the fall of the Congress-JDS government in the state and the BJP coming to power.

Besides the infighting, a huge issue plaguing the party is leadership. Just when political experts saw Rahul Gandhi shaping into a seasoned politician, the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 Results poured in and the Gandhi scion quit as the party's president. Gandhi said he takes complete responsibility of the Congress's embarrassing defeat and would not want to return as the party chief. Here, Congress lost another opportunity of moving away from dynasty politics by not electing a non-Gandhi leader. Instead, Sonia Gandhi returned as the interim chief of the Congress.

It also looks like Rahul Gandhi has given up on not just leadership, but even on carrying the party forward. Gandhi recently refused to be part of the candidate selection process for the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2019. There also seems to be a major communication gap between the old and young guard of Congress.

Another factor going against Congress is its absence from the media. Ever since the party lost Lok Sabha Elections 2019, they have barred their spokespersons from participating in television debates. The country is going through a huge economic crisis and the Finance Minister has had to announce new measures and even take back the decisions she announced during Budget 2019. Two former leaders of the ruling BJP, Chinmayanand and Kuldeep Sengar, have been accused of rape. There has been a complete shutdown of communication in Jammu and Kashmir for the past 60 days now. The PMC Bank has been hit by a huge scam and depositors have been barred from withdrawing money beyond a limit. However, there has been no strong attack on the Narendra Modi government from the front. Congress is completely relying on Twitter to raise issues against the BJP.

However, a silver lining in this area over the recent past has been Professor Gourav Vallabh, National Spokesperson of the Congress party. He became viral after he took on BJP's Sambit Patra at a couple of shows and managed to put him in a spot. But can Professor Vallabh alone pull the party out of the mess that it is in? Better still, will the party let Vallabh lead from the front at a national level?

It is high time the Congress party introspects and gets its act together as it remains in ruffles and suffers leadership crisis. If the party does not go all out with its leadership, election plans and raising issues, the Congress may soon become history.