Bengaluru, May 16: They say failure is the pillar of success, but in the case of Congress president Rahul Gandhi after every unsuccessful election bid one more poll disaster quickly follows. The latest in the series of Rahul's political debacle is the embarrassing defeat of the Congress in the Karnataka Assembly elections 2018, the results of which were declared on Tuesday.
The Congress, which had emphatically won the 2013 Karnataka elections with 122 seats in the 224-member Assembly, has been reduced to 78 seats this time. The entire campaign in the Karnataka elections--like in the Gujarat Assembly elections last year--was headed by Rahul.
He was the main face of the Congress in Karnataka during the election season as the Congress president was regularly visiting the southern state since last year. The people of Karnataka gave Rahul a warm welcome wherever he went, from mutts, metros to ice cream parlours. These days, he definitely exudes a new-found confidence and matured understanding of political matters, a far cry from his initial days as a "reluctant politician".
But the political growth of Rahul did not prove beneficial to the Congress. People's love and warmth to the Gandhi scion did not translate into votes in Karnataka. While every successful rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (we are doing the usual comparison as Rahul is the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) favourite punching bag) is an indication of the saffron party's success in a forthcoming election, Rahul's public appearances have been reduced to photo ops.
As the Karnataka election results started pouring in on Tuesday, social media users were the first ones to troll Rahul (for a change not his political adversaries). From asking him to start selling "potatoes" (in case he is looking for a career change) to be credited with fulfilling the BJP's mission of Congress-mukt bharat (Congress-free India), Rahul was literally battered by social media experts.
The trolls roasted Rahul badly in an already bad day for him and the Congress and they came up with hilarious memes, highlighting everything that is wrong with his political career.
The political graph of the 47-year-old Gandhi scion, who joined politics in 2004, has been a lacklustre once since his formative days as the general secretary in charge of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC). Rahul's leadership abilities had been questioned several times amid his own confusion of being a "reluctant politician".
It is a different matter that the Lok Sabha MP had won all the elections which he had contested as an individual, but he has always failed to give victory to the Congress whenever he had led the party in any poll.
Last December, amid the Gujarat Assembly elections, Rahul was made the president of the Congress. The Congress did not win Gujarat too, but the party's tally improved from the previous polls, and Rahul was given credit for its "moral victory". The Gujarat loss was followed by Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya Assembly election debacles earlier this year.
Karnataka was one of the last few states in the Congress' kitty till yesterday. But that too it has lost miserably. Now, the Congress is trying its best to keep the BJP away from forming the next government in the southern state by joining hands with the Janata Dal (Secular) which Rahul had dubbed as the "B-team" of the saffron party during his campaigning.
The Congress, as usual, came to the rescue of Rahul after the Karnataka disaster. Speaking to reporters, Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivkumar said that Rahul did his best. "He came here, spent a lot of time. Ultimately the local leaders have to encash it, but some of us have failed it."
Shivkumar tried his best to shift the blame from Rahul to local leaders, but unfortunately it turned out to be a too weak a defence for someone who is indefensible.
On his part, Rahul thanked the people of Karnataka who voted for the party, saying it will fight for them. He also praised the party workers and leaders for their dedication and hard work in the Karnataka assembly elections.
Before social media warriors trolled Rahul, PM Modi mocked his bête noire at an election rally in Karnataka and predicted the Congress' defeat like a soothsayer.
"After May 15 (when the poll results will be declared), the Indian National Congress will be reduced to 'PPP Congress'-- P for Punjab, P for Puducherry, and P for Parivar (family)," Modi told an election rally in Gadag.
Currently, the Congress is in power in Mizoram, Punjab and Puducherry. Rest of the country has been almost painted in saffron, thanks to PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah whose hunger for victory has been growing more and more with each election win.