Monday, November 17, 2014

2.5 lakh votes polled, Congress candidate gets just 1,000: Where has Congress' traditional vote gone?


Isn't it shocking that more than 2.5 lakh voters exercise their franchise in an Assembly constituency and while the candidates who come first and second secured well over 1 lakh votes each, the Congress candidate who comes fourth gets just 1035 votes.

NCP candidate had got 1.23 lakh votes and Shiv Sena candidate got 1.17 lakh. Just 0.4% of the voters in the constituency chose Congress.The question comes naturally that where has Congress' traditional vote disappeared?

This happened in Kagal constituency in Maharashtra. But that's not the lone example.

Such trends were witnessed in many other seats in the recently held state elections in Maharashtra, which was seen as a traditional Congress' state.

I find it shocking because we all know there were [are] people who are traditional Congress voters.

Irrespective of their caste or community, they were staunch 'Congressi', and whenever they went to the polling booth, they simply pushed the button and voted for 'hand' [Congress symbol]. But it seems this breed has now vanished.


In the first part, we had analysed the reasons Muslims are angry with the Congress. The issues, which the community has with the party, especially, the long-standing grievances and party's failure to even give a patient hearing to Muslims, let alone take action.

But, it is not just about Muslims. It seems everybody is upset with the way Congress is functioning. During election campaign, it often happens, that on the eve of polling, it gets clear that only two candidates are in the race, and the remaining candidates are relegated to the background.

Still, if Congress' candidate gets just 1,000 votes, it shows how much ground Congress has lost. One after the other, the Rural voter, the Poor, the Dalits, the Tribals, the Minorities, all have left the Congress. 

Even the most committed traditional Congress voter seems getting disenchanted with the party. 

We earlier talked about Muslim dominated constituencies in Haryana, where Congress' Muslim candidates came 4th and 5th.

In Maharashtra too, there is a trend. It is not about Muslim voting for a 'Muslim candidate or a Muslim party'. In Aurangabad, there was clear Muslim support for MIM, and hence one can understand Congress' poor show.

In Aurangabad east, BJP's Atul Moreshwar Save's victory over Dr Abdul Ghaffar Qadri. Both got over 60,000 votes. But a veteran like Congress' Rajendra Darda got just over 20,000 votes. On Aurangabad central, Congress' MM Shaikh came 6th.

Shaikh got just 9,000 votes. Shiv Sena, BJP, NCP, MIM and even BSP candidates got more votes than the Congress. It is clear that Congress' core vote bank has diminished. At many Muslim majority constituencies, Muslims overwhelmingly voted for non-Muslim candidates of parties other than Congress.

In Mumbra, Jitendra Awhad is a popular man and hence the NCP candidate was favoured heavily by Muslim electorate, who didn't choose Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) or any other Muslim candidate from here.

Awhad got 86,000 votes and won by a huge margin from Mumbra. The Shiv Sena candidate came second with 38,000 votes. MIM and BJP came third and fourth. Congress' Muslim candidate Yasin Qureshi came 5th with just over 3,847 votes.


Many feel that the fall in Congress' vote share is a temporary phenomenon. The examples of Janata Party era [1977], the National Front's rise [1989] and the loss of Congress in late 90s, are given, to prove that Congress will again bounce back.

There may be some merit in this argument. Also, BJP's rise can't be permanent. But the fact is that BJP has expanded its voter base. On the other hand Congress has disenchanted its voters, due to a host of reasons.

From inaction to poor communication with its electorate, Congress has a lot to do to get back the 'connect' with the people. Congress' organisational structure has weakened across the country. In the sixties and seventies, the party had Indira Gandhi.

Congress had a charismatic leader like Rajiv Gandhi. After its defeat in the 90s, Sonia Gandhi rejuvenated the party. But today, its leaders don't inspire, don't instill any confidence, and that's the sad reality.

Party has lost its voters' confidence in large parts of the country. To reclaim it is a colossal task, and what Rahul Gandhi is doing about it> It is this situation which brings Congress candidates to just 1,000 votes in an Assembly election, less than its candidates used get in a municipal ward election.