Will Congress change the order to win future polls?

A month and a half after facing a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, Congress is likely to go for a major rejig anytime soon.

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

A month and a half after facing a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, Congress is likely to go for a major rejig anytime soon. With six major states going for polls in the next one year, the oldest party needs to adopt a different strategy.

In run up to the recently concluded general elections, both BJP and Congress had applied a different approach while giving responsibility of states to leaders. In the 2014 polls, BJP primarily adopted one state, one person policy. On the other hand, Congress selected ten leaders to oversee all states.

For 35 states/UTs the saffron party has 33

æleaders to handle their issues. Prabhat Jha (Delhi and Andhra Pradesh) and Tapir Gao (Manipur and Nagaland) are the only leaders from BJP heading two states each.
Among the notable names who are heading the states in BJP are Amit Shah (UP), Ananth Kumar (MP), S. S. Ahluwalia (Assam), Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Maharashtra), Shanta Kumar (Punjab) and Varun Gandhi (West Bengal).

In Congress, ten leaders are heading the states for the party, but with an unequal pattern. For example, Luizinho Faleiro has the charge of seven states (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura) for Congress. Similarly, CP Joshi (Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal), Gurudas Kamat (Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Gujarat and Rajasthan), Mukul Wasnik (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu) and Shakeel Ahmad (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh) are in charge of four states each. Madhusudan Mistry is Congress’s in-charge in UP and the only one to handle a single state.

Interestingly, while in BJP four women leaders (Smriti Irani, Bijoya Chakravarty, Arti Mehra and Poonam Mahajan) are tasked with the responsibility of handling states, in Congress Ambika Soni is the only female to take care of party affairs in states.

The analysis has found another interesting difference between the country’s two prominent parties. While the average age of state prabharis in BJP stands at 55.65, in Congress it’s 61.94. The BJP list of state in-charges has three members less than 40 years of age, but the youngest person in the Congress list is Mukul Wasnik who is 54 years old.

The oldest leader in Congress list is Ambika Soni (71), while in the saffron party Shanta Kumar (79) is the most aged person.

The Congress can implement BJP’s formula to score in states going to polls in the next one year. For instance, BJP has done pretty well in states where they had put in young faces in charge. Dharmendra Pradhan (Bihar), Poonam Mahajan (Dadra & Nagar Haveli), Smriti Irani (Goa) and Varun Gandhi (West Bengal) were able to put up a good show for the party in the recently concluded polls.

On the other hand, performance of senior Congress leaders was thin in states where they had been given charge. Digvijay Singh, the state head of Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka, could not help the party’s chance in polls. Likewise, Ambika Soni, who heads Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Uttarakhand, surprisingly couldn’t win a single seat for the party.

In the next one year, elections are going to take place in Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir. In four out of six states, Congress is part of the government.

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