ALL AT SEA
India Today|May 17, 2021
Plumbing electoral depths, the Congress yet again faces a do-ordie choice. If it can put in an honest effort to reform itself, it can still be a uniting force for the Opposition
Kaushik Deka

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress won just 52 seats—eight more than in 2014— and failed to breach the three-digit mark in the 545-member house for a second consecutive time. Of these 52 seats, 15 came from Kerala, a state that sends just 20 MPs to the Lok Sabha. It was the party’s best performance across all states and came three years after it was crushed in the assembly election in Kerala. With former Congress president and de facto leader Rahul Gandhi representing the state from Wayanad, there was anticipation that the party will dethrone the incumbent LDF (Left Democratic Front) government in the next assembly poll.

However, when the results of the 2021 assembly poll in Kerala was announced, the Congress had won just 21 seats in the 140-member house. The performance was worse than in 2016, when the Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front) government faced anti-incumbency. What made the route even more bitter was that Kerala was one of the two states—the other being Tamil Nadu—where Rahul had run an extensive campaign. In his earnest attempt to woo voters in the state, Rahul drew flak for comparing north and south India at a public meeting in Thiruvananthapuram: “For the first 15 years, I was an MP in the north; I had got used to a different type of politics. For me, coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues, and not just superficially, but going into detail.”

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