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Loaded nearly 100%: A Congress Mukt Bharat

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

It was in mid 2013 that Narendra Modi first gave a call for “Congress Mukt Bharat”. At that time, it might have come across as merely rhetoric to rouse the cadres. Just an impossible dream. You know, like Mission 272! But electoral experience shows that Narendra Modi takes his slogans very seriously.

But what sounded like an impossible dream only four years ago seems like a reality that we are all living today. The states of Punjab and Goa voted yesterday. By all accounts, including those of “secular” commentators, the BJP is headed for a landslide in Goa and the AAP in Punjab. The common factor? No Congress! The Congress is gone and it’s just not coming back. The voters simply don’t want to give them another chance.

Let us pause for a moment to reflect on what Punjab means for the Congress. This is the first time in four years that there was an actual chance of a Congress leader being sworn in as Chief Minister. By all accounts, it’s gone, gobbled up by a tiny, fledgling party. Ahead of the Congress lies a rough road with Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka coming up.

It might actually happen that the Congress would go into the 2019 election without a single Chief Minister, barring some tiny states in the North East, if even that.

It really is happening. “Congress Mukt Bharat” has gone from an impossible dream to a natural conclusion. The party of Nehru and Indira and Rajiv and Sonia is really going away. Indira’s party is disappearing from India. They used to say “Indira is India”. Ha! They used to arrogantly shower themselves with Bharat Ratnas. Today, they are getting wiped out of Bharat.

Remember folks, this happened in our lifetimes. It is our generation that got this done. To those generations that will follow us, you are all very welcome

Now I must register my amazement at the way the right wing, at least online, reacted to reports of an AAP win in Punjab yesterday. As Modi ji would have put it, “Mitron, Main Hairaan Hoon” (I am stunned). Why isn’t the right wing celebrating? This is “Congress Mukt Bharat” we are talking about. Has Kejriwal, with his limited influence across a mere 20 Lok Sabha seats gotten so under the skin of the online RW, that they fail to see the importance of Congress Mukt Bharat?

I appeal for some rationality. The Congress still has a presence in almost 200 Lok Sabha seats. In another 100 seats or so, the Congress can rent out its 5-6% votes to a regional player opposed to the BJP. Does it really make sense to look past this threat and worry about Kejriwal? In fact, Kejriwal’s only real asset is that he gets under the BJP’s skin. Get a thicker skin and he won’t be a problem any more. Perhaps this will help. I just thought I would make a collage of these faces to remind the RW of what we have overcome as a nation:

Congress mukt Bharat
Remember them?

I appeal to people to remember these faces. Please try to remember their smug faces on our screens during the decade from 2004-14! Now think about Congress Mukt Bharat. Are you smiling yet? Excellent!

Incidentally, the Congress’ likely rout in Punjab has other immediate positive consequences for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Imagine what the blow in Punjab has done to the morale of Congress workers in Uttar Pradesh. Especially considering that the election will begin in the western part of UP, where BJP already had an edge. It’s the right time for BJP to hammer the grand alliance and go in for a sweep. Once the sweep is set in motion from the west, the news will travel across as the election progresses, liquidating the spirits of SP and Congress workers everywhere.

The hardest hit here could be Akhilesh Yadav. By my count, it’s a “quadruple whammy” at the very least.

For one, several of his family members are working actively to undermine him. And these family members have loyalists in the party at all levels, which can really hurt the SP with campaign coordination and booth level organization. This last mile of electioneering can make all the difference in close contests.

Second, the vast majority of people in Uttar Pradesh think that the Yadav family war was a sham (it was not). This limits his ability to get the “sympathy votes” that the Lutyens’ mafia has been trying so hard to get for him.

Third, he has given away as many as 100 seats to the Congress. Several SP ticket hopefuls with serious claims have been denied in the process. These people now have every reason to work against their party. The Congress organization was never in good shape  anyway to fight these 100 seats. Add to this the demoralization of already weak Congress cadres due to their Punjab hopes fading away.

Fourth,  the UP CM Akhilesh Yadav has given a lot of prominence to Rahul Gandhi in the campaign. The news filtering in from Punjab and Goa shows that the electorate is still in no mood to cut the Congress any slack. People still regard the Congress with revulsion. In fact, the Congress might be actively repelling votes. If this trend holds up in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav is most certainly toast. He has given too much camera space to the Congress, a mistake that Nitish and Lalu definitely did not make in Bihar.

One final remark : Punjab appears to be confirming the magic formula for finishing off the Congress. Keep the Congress out of power for two terms and they will never ever come back. In the absence of any ideology whatsoever, the way the Congress patronage system is set up means that its “investors” do not wait more than five years for a return. Make them wait ten years and the “venture capitalists” won’t stay invested. They will pull their money out. What does that say about the importance of 2019?

In 2018, India has a chance to celebrate its first ever Congress mukt Diwali. Say no to pollution

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  
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