New Delhi: The debacle in the Lok Sabha polls appears to be leading to an implosion in the 134-year-old Congress, with the legislators and leaders dumping the grand old party in states amid chaos in its top leadership.
Since last month, the Congress saw its MLAs quitting in hordes in Telangana, Karnataka and Goa. The biggest setback came in Karnataka, where the party is on the verge of losing its government.
In Karnataka, 13 of the Congress 79 MLAs have tendered their resignation since July 6, putting the party’s 13-month-old coalition government with JD(S) in a crisis situation.
The party had formed government in a post-poll alliance with 37-member JD(S) in May last year after the Assembly polls threw up a hung House. In the 225-member Assembly, including a nominated member, the Congress and JD(S), along with the support of lone members of BSP and regional party KPJP and an Independent, mustered 118 MLAs, five more than the required simple majority.
This prevented the BJP, with 105 MLAs, from forming the government.
However, the Congress got a rude shock after its MLAs started resigning since last Saturday. Along with its 13 legislators, 3 of the JD(S) have also quit. The MLA of KPJP and the Independent have also withdrawn their support.
Even as the Congress was grappling with the Karnataka crisis, its 10 MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, quit the party on Wednesday.
The 10 Congress MLAs soon after joined the BJP, raising the ruling party’s tally to 27 in the Assembly.
This left the Congress with only 5 MLAs in the 40-member Goa Assembly, where it had emerged as the single largest party after the 2017 polls with 17 seats. Two legislators had left the party earlier.
Commenting on the exodus in the Congress, its MLA and former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat told IANS on Thursday, “If the Opposition leader himself quits the party and joins the BJP, what can I say?”
The shockers for the Congress in Karnataka and Goa came just about a month after 12 out of its 18 MLAs dumped the party in Telangana to join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).
The party also faced embarrassment in Maharashtra, where its Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil quit last month.
There are suggestions that the Congress could face a similar situation in Madhya Pradesh too because of simmering infighting among various camps, which got aggravated after the Lok Sabha polls.
The unrest in the Congress was fuelled after the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in which the party managed to get only 52 seats in the 545-member House.
The stunned party’s woes increased with its President Rahul Gandhi tendering his resignation from the post immediately after the poll results came on May 23, creating a sort of vacuum in the leadership and uncertainty among the cadres.
Some Congress leaders in private say that they are not aware who is running the show in the party now, since Rahul Gandhi has refused to reconsider his resignation and recently made public that he was no more the President.
Veteran party leader Karan Singh, however, went public recently, saying he was “aghast to see the confusion and disorientation” in which the Congress has fallen since Rahul Gandhi resigned on May 25.
In a statement, he said instead of putting an alternate structure in place after Rahul quit, “a month was wasted pleading” with him to take back his resignation, which :as a man of honour and integrity, he should not have been pressured to do.”
After the poll debacle, Roshan Baig, a former Karnataka minister who was one of the senior Congress leaders to resign recently, had attacked some senior party leaders like K.C. Venugopal and Siddaramaiah for the poor performance.
He had said that it was because of them that the Congress won only one seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections out of 28 seats in Karnataka, despite bagging 79 out of 225 seats in the Assembly elections held last year.
The BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls, bagging 25 seats.