Congress today added to its string of electoral debacles this year with defeat in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, where it was ruling in alliance.
The defeats, which come within two months of it being ousted from power in Maharashtra and Haryana, have once again deepened the impression that the party is yet to come out of morass that it found itself in after the rout in Lok Sabha poll where its tally plummeted to an abysmal 44 from 206 seats it had won in 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
Congress had lost Maharashtra after ruling the state in alliance with NCP for 15 years and Haryana after single party rule for 10 years.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to interpret the results particularly in Jharkhand as a negation by people of attempts of Congress to cobble up a larger secular alliance with JD(U) and RJD in Bihar saying that the fate of three parties in Jharkhand in this election indicates where such plans are going. Congress, JD(U) and RJD had contested the polls in Jharkhand together. Both Congress and RJD were part of the alliance government with JMM in the state headed by Hemant Soren but it decided to snap ties with Shibu Soren’s party and contest the Assembly elections on its own. While the JMM managed to beat anti-incumbency and may increase its tally from 18 in 2009 to 20, Congress tally appeared to be plummeting from 14 to 07. Apparently the gamble of going it alone did not pay off for the party in the state.
In Jammu and Kashmir, where it ran a government headed by Omar Abdullah for six years in alliance with National Conference, its tally seems to be coming down to 12 while ally NC may end up with 15 seats in the 87-member House.
BJP, which fought elections in Jammu and Kashmir aggressively, could win 25 seats dominating the political landscape in Jammu even as PDP emerged as the largest party with 29 seats, mostly from the Valley and adjoining Jammu area.
More than its defeat, it is the victory of BJP in Jammu region that could be a cause of worry for Congress.
Immediately after the results were out, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party was “open” to aligning with PDP in the state to provide a government.
“We are always open. We have allied with PDP as well as with National Conference in past. One thing is clear that we will not go with BJP. As far as they (PDP and NC) are concerned, we have had alliances with them,” Azad, a former Chief Minister, said.
The Congress and PDP had formed a government together in 2002.
Though some of the party leaders today said that the results show that the Narendra Modi wave is on decline as BJP could neither score an overwhelming win in Jharkhand nor it could complete its Mission 44+ in Jammu and Kashmir, the results have come as a spirit dampener, many concede.
Rahul Gandhi’s leadership may again come in for tough questioning in coming days as it has happened in past.