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The Indian National Congress has got completely routed in New Delhi Elections, a State they governed for 15 years. They have not won a single seat. The last two years have been very bad for the Indian National Congress and the Delhi election results probably represent the lowest it has descended ever. The natural question is – Is it the end of the road for the INC?

Short answer – It is the end of the road for the INC if you define the party by the way it has been operating since 1972.  By this I mean that this probably is the end of

  • Centralized, arbitrary, authoritarian decision making.
  • Assuming that the INC has automatic space in governance and decision making.
Is it the end of secular, socialist ideology? 

I don’t think so. At least I hope it is NOT.  Opposing ideologies and political forces are needed to keep pluralism alive.

Is there no hope for the Congress?

I don’t think so. In politics there is always hope. There is always a chance of improving oneself. There is always a chance that one’s opponents screw up royally. We must remember that the Congress was thrashed in 1977 as well but it bounced back in 1979. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was thrashed in 1984 when they won just 2 seats in the Lok Sabha but they bounced back and how.

Why do I think there is hope for the INC? 
  • The party still has grassroots presence all over the country. Even in 2014, it’s worst showing ever, the INC got 19.4% of the votes polled in the country. They were second only to the BJP (31%) and way ahead of the Bahujan Samaj Party (4%)
  • There are some excellent leaders in the party – academics, intellectuals as well as mass-based leaders.
  • They have a very good pool of experienced politicians.
  • They have the legacy of being the party that was at the forefront of the freedom movement.  No one can ever deny them that even if the freedom struggle becomes a distant memory for most Indians.

There is no doubt that they will have to make big changes. Take big decisions. Rebuild. Have patience.  If they fail to do that, then their space will be taken up by others and THEN they will truly die.   They are not dead, as yet. In fact now is the time to show some character and fighting spirit. The next 4 years will show if the INC survives. Even if it does, it will be a different party from the one that it is now.