Congress has not recovered from the 2014 Lok Sabha body blow as yet- Interview

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The recently concluded assembly elections led to a debate in many circles and that was regarding whether India was moving towards a Congress mukth Bharath. The Congress leadership has spoken about introspection and its supremo Sonia Gandhi even said that failure is temporary.

Will the Congress revive or will the downfall continue. The Congress has not yet recovered from its 2014 defeat in the Lok Sabha polls says Dr Sandeep Shastri, a leading psephologist. In this interview with OneIndia, Dr Shastri says that the Congress needs to get out of the mindset where in it says a defeat is a collective responsibility while in success the credit goes to the high command.


Is India really seeing a Congress mukth Bharath?

The Congress is mukth from power in many stages. The party is at that stage of the political cycle where it is on a decline. They do not seem to have recovered from their 2014 Lok Sabha defeat and since then they have seen failures on a successive basis. The party is on a decline in terms of popularity and positioning.

What does the Congress need to do?

The party requires some serious introspection. It needs to re-strategise its approach. Moreover it needs to think whether it has given enough say to state leaders to take a call.
The other factor that one needs to bear in mind is that the real Congress mukth bharath would happen only depending on their performance in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In these states the BJP has had a very long run and if it cannot revive in these states then it is in serious trouble.

Is the approach of the party right?

As I said that they have not recovered from body blow they got in 2014. It takes a lot of introspection to change the scenario. The Congress culture has always been , " if they are defeated the blame is collective and if they win the credit goes to the high command."
Although Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have said that they take responsibility for the defeat of the party, they do not have any plan. For the past two years none have seen any visible or viable road map for the future.

These elections have also been a come back for the BJP.

Yes the BJP had an electoral drought in 2015. But this year around it has been a harvest. The major take away for the BJP in these elections is the victory in Assam. The rise of the BJP in Kerala is also an important point.

What about verdict in West Bengal?

West Bengal was won on the strength of the Trinamool Congress. Mamata Banerjee is on a honeymoon period and the people were willing to give her another chance. Moreover she is very popular in the rural areas.

What led to the AIDMK winning in Tamil Nadu?

The split in the anti AIDMK votes was one factor that helped Jayalalithaa. The DMK was unable to capitalise on this. Another factor is that the women's vote was high and it became clear that they had voted for the AIDMK.

Do any of these results have a bearing on the Uttar Pradesh election, the next big battle?

Uttar Pradesh is a completely different ball game because of the nature of competition. UP would depend a lot on both alliance arithmetic and alliance chemistry. UP would be a hard fought battle. It would also be a big test for the BJP which will look to sustain its Lok Sabha result in the state.

How critical is it for the BJP to announce a CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh?

Announcing a Chief Ministerial candidate is not critical as much as whom you appoint and what role you give. In Assam they were strategic in announcing the candidate early. They announced a candidate who has a strong base in the grass root levels. In UP they would need to look for someone with a strong base.

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