Elections 2014: Congress – the new national `regional` party

The nation has given its 2014 verdict – Narendra Modi will be India`s next prime minister, that too with a mandate not seen in the last 30 years.

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal

New Delhi: The nation has given its 2014 verdict – Narendra Modi will be India`s next prime minister, that too with a mandate not seen in the last 30 years.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has on its own clocked over 280 seats in the General Elections, attaining simple majority in the Lok Sabha, while the National Democratic Alliance has won more than 330.

The Congress, on the other hand, has been reduced to a mere 44 seats – its worst performance ever in the history of independent India.
What`s worse is that the stature of the national party, though emerging as the second largest party in the 16th Lok Sabha, has been reduced to that of a regional party – or even worse.

Here`s why: the Congress, being a national party, has won just 44 seats across the nation – 28 states and 7 Union Territories.

On the other hand, the AIADMK – led by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa – has won 37 seats in Tamil Nadu alone. Also, Mamata Banerjee`s All India Trinamool Congress has emerged victorious in 34 seats in West Bengal. The Biju Janata Dal, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has bagged 20 seats in Odisha, and the Shiv Sena has secured 18 seats in Maharashtra alone.
So, by comparing the four regional parties` performance (in terms of geographical area) with that of the national party it becomes clear that the Congress has fared worse than even its regional counterparts.

Also, in effect, the 2014 verdict leaves India without any credible opposition.

As per norms, a party should have won at least one-tenth of the total Lok Sabha seats to claim the post of the Leader of Opposition. That figure for the incoming Lok Sabha stands at 54 (10 percent of total 543 seats).

With the Congress winning just 44 seats, and no other party coming close to that figure, the situation is unprecedented.

Bisecting the Congress performance, we find that the party failed to even open its account in 10 states and did not touch double-digit in any.

Its performance in key states has been the worst. In Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkahand, the party failed to win a single seat while in others it could barely open its account – Haryana (1), Punjab (3), Uttar Pradesh (2) and Bihar (2).

The party`s voteshare has also got reduced to a mere 19.3 percent nationally, compared to the BJP`s 31.1 percent.

For the Congress, the next five years will not be just time for reflection but also to overhaul its internal system, policies and leadership structure if the party wishes to stay relevant. The party will have to act quickly otherwise it will face similar shocks in the upcoming state elections as well.

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