India Today
That Sinking Feeling Image Credit: India Today
That Sinking Feeling Image Credit: India Today

That Sinking Feeling

Despite a Victory in Punjab, the Congress Is in a Deeper Crisis, Prompting Fresh Calls for a Leadership Change at the Helm

Kaushik Deka

ON MARCH 10, a day before the assembly election results in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, the Congress appointed a new president in Arunachal Pradesh. In this northeastern state, where 43 of its 44 MLAs had deserted the party last year to form a BJP government, the choice of president was crucial as he would be tasked with rebuilding the party from almost scratch. The Congress high command handed the arduous job to Takam Sanjoy, who had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Arunachal West. In 2011, India today had reported an allegation of rape against him.

Yet, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who talks of bringing transparency and merit to the Congress’s organisational structure, believes Sanjoy is the best bet for reviving the party in the state. Such inexplicable decisions reflect the rot in a party that is down to just 813 assembly seats—20 per cent of the total 4,020 in the country. The BJP’s primary rival on paper is in power in only seven states—it’s an alliance partner in Bihar—while the saffron party rules 14 and, at the time of filing this report, had won an invite from the Manipur governor to form a government in the state.

More importantly, the Congress is out of power in eight big states—UP, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan—that account for 331 Lok Sabha seats. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress has 44 MPs agai

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