Bhubaneswar, December 28 (Localwire): While Congress, the grand old political party in India, celebrated its 135th foundation day on Saturday, experts point out that all is not well with its unit in Odisha.
The party hit rock bottom with a humiliating drubbing at the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly polls and since then things have been going from bad to worse with the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee.
The party that has been at the helm of affair in the state, for more than any other party, is currently struggling for its existence; from being the unchallenged ruling party, it has been pushed to the number third spot with BJP donning the mantle of principal opposition.
The regional party, BJD is firmly ensconced at the top, driving the government the state for two decades.
During the 2019 twin-poll, the majority of its candidates lost their security deposits and Congress could manage to garner only nine of the 147 seats, down from 16 seats in 2014 assembly polls.
In the Lok Sabha election, it could win only one, Koraput seat, with its candidate Saptagiri Ulaka winning by a slender margin. Of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, BJD bagged 12 while BJP won eight seats.
The party’s candidates stood second in 31 seats, while they lost security deposits in 56 constituencies.
Besides, the party was relegated to the third spot in the remaining 106 seats.
The sorry fate of the party could be gauged if one takes into account Congress’s performance in seven assembly seats coming under the Lok Sabha constituency. The party’s votes put together had come to paltry 45,000 in seven assembly seats.
In terms of percentage, the grand old party could garner only 13.18 per cent votes, down from 26.38 per cent in 2014, which is its all-time low performance in the state assembly elections.
Its vote percentage performance in Lok Sabha polls was no better. The party’s Lok Sabha candidates could manage to bag only 16.12 per cent votes, as compared to 25.71 per cent in 2014.
Reviving the party to its glorious past and good old days seems most unlikely as its grass-root organisational base stands severely fractured with diehard workers joining either BJD or BJP.
“The party has to reinvent its strategy to regain the lost ground. The party’s fortune has revived in other states. So it could happen in Odisha also. The party leaders need to stand together instead of washing dirty linen in public and only then people could take the party and its leaders seriously,” Antarjami Pradhan, a staunch follower of the party from pilgrim town of Puri, said.
“People have been rejecting our party in successive elections. We have our own shortcomings in the party hierarchy and organisational setup. We have to work as a cohesive unit so that people will once again repose trust in us in Odisha,” senior leader and former minister Ganeswar Behera said.