Ahmed Patel's victory in the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat is a great reason for the Congress to cheer. The win, however, is no reason for the Congress to get excited or ahead of itself. At the best, the win is a morale booster but not a game changer for the party in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections or even the Gujarat Assembly elections.
A divided party unit, abysmal performances in most elections in the recent past, leadership crisis and countering the BJP in the next few assembly elections continue to be huge challenges for the party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"I think morale booster would be appropriate to describe Ahmed Patel's win. The Congress has merely been able to fend off an offensive by the BJP and in a sense have been able to salvage the status quo. At best, in preparation for the assembly election, Patel winning a Rajya Sabha seat could be a morale booster for the party in trying to revive its position and its capacity in Gujarath and nothing more," said Psephologist Dr Sandeep Shastri.
The general election is a continuance and is never independent of any assembly election that takes place in the run-up to it. In that sense, the Gujarat and Karnataka elections become very important for the Congress. While its prospects are better in Karnataka, the party is still in tatters in Gujarat. Despite being in power for almost 15 years and already facing anti-incumbency, the BJP still seems more sure of winning Gujarat than Karnataka all thanks to the Congress' position in the state.
No real reason for Congress to be excited
Experts believe that while Ahmed Patel's win has surely lifted up the spirits of Congress workers and leadership, calling it a game changer would be making too much of the victory. "The Congress may get excited to hype its cadre and increase its intensity and enthusiasm. But, the party still needs some soul searching. It needs to find out why it has reached the situation that it has. Unless that is done, any attempt to stage a comeback will be a challenge," added Dr Shastri
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, in an interview, had said that the party was in an existential crisis. Within 24 hours, another senior leader, Kamal Nath, rubbished any existential crisis in the party. Acknowledgement of rot within the system is the first step towards a solution and experts believe that unless the Congress cleans up the rot, the going will remain tough.