New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The “chowkidar chor hai” campaign by Congress President Rahul Gandhi to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and his proposed Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) clearly failed to impress the Indian electorate which gave a resounding victory to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Thursday, putting a question mark on the leadership of the grand old party.
The Congress, according to the trends available, once again performed dismally, with the party leading at 54 Lok Sabha seats, just 10 more than what it bagged in the 2014 general elections to the 543-member Lower House of the Parliament.
In view of the second consecutive poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, serious questions will definitely be raised over the leadership of 49-year-old Rahul Gandhi, who was made the President of the Congress in 2017 with an aim of rejuvenating the party after its worst ever show in the last general elections.
The party fared badly even in the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where it was elected to power only six months back.
Worse, Rahul Gandhi was himself on the verge of losing to BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi constituency, which has been the pocket borough of his family.
As reflected by the outcome of these elections, his campaign and strategy turned out to be a total failure.
Gandhi had made the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ the main plank of his electioneering, alleging corruption and wrongdoings in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter planes from France, a charge which was repeatedly rubbished by the government.
However, the fact that the BJP swept the elections by bagging more seats than even the last time goes on to demonstrate that the plank grossly misfired for Gandhi.
Another major poll plank of Gandhi was the NYAY scheme, under which he promised that if the Congress was voted to power, it would provide a financial assistance of up to Rs 72,000 annually to the poorest people of the country. But clearly, this too failed to impress the electorate.
In the wake of the results, the question arises whether there will be a serious introspection in the Congress.
Some Congress leaders confide in private that Gandhi doesn’t have it in him to lead the grand old party but nothing can be done since the party is controlled by his family.
“Rahul Gandhi is our weakness, but it is our compulsion to let the family control the party as otherwise the party can break,” according to a Congress leader.
After the poll debacle the last time, several Congress leaders had openly blamed Gandhi, then the Vice President of the party, and his team of advisers for an “uninspiring and lacklustre” campaign and “faulty distribution” of tickets.
The Congress, under the Presidentship of Sonia Gandhi, had then set up a four-member committee headed by senior leader A.K. Antony to analyse the reasons for the poor show.
Among other things, it had blamed the party’s strategy of pitching the general elections as a battle between communalism and secularism and perceived minority appeasement, which ironically were again the main themes of the 2019 polls.