It wasn't only Chhattisgarh; the Congress's kamal nath attempted to use mild Hindutva to win political gains in madhya pradesh, where the party was defeated — and it wasn't just Hindutva. Multiple reasons contributed to the Congress's poor showing in the three hindi heartland states where election results were announced on Sunday.
On several subjects, including Hindutva and welfare, the congress was outmatched by the BJP. At another, neither its electoral apparatus nor its attempt at social engineering paid off — and, once again, the bjp performed better on both counts.
At another level, the Congress's inability to effect a generational change in leadership in two of the three states (Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) contrasted poorly with the BJP's hard decision not to announce chief ministerial candidates in all three heartland states, one with an incumbent chief minister from the party and the other two with seemingly obvious candidates in former chief ministers.
It was almost as if Murphy, the famous lawyer, had written the screenplay for Sunday. The sole bright spot for the party was a landslide victory in Telangana, where strong (and new) local leadership, a successful election management plan devised by strategist sunil Kanugolu, and anti-incumbency against the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi all came together.
In a party where three of the top four leaders, president mallikarjun Kharge, former president rahul Gandhi, and general secretary (organization) KC Venugopal, are elected to represent south India, the Congress' national leadership found limited appeal in the hindi heartland campaign. "It is once again clear that rahul Gandhi has little to offer as a vote catcher in north India," remarked a non-Congress politician who requested anonymity.
While Gandhi's Bharat Jodo yatra may have helped the congress solidify its votes in southern India, particularly in states like karnataka and Telangana, another politician noticed that it did not convert into more votes for the congress in north India.
The attitude of congress, as described by a senior congress official who campaigned in all three states, was that "national leadership had a limited role to play in these elections."
And again, the party was found wanting.
"State-level leaders were crucial for the party's prospects, and they disappointed," said one unnamed source.
Indeed, kamal nath and ashok gehlot conducted their campaigns in both madhya pradesh and Rajasthan.
"Our biggest problem in madhya pradesh was that kamal nath did not believe in collective leadership." He insisted on doing things his way. However, against a well-organized party like the bjp, a team effort is essential. "Nath even forced the high command to reassign JP Agarwal as mp in charge," claimed a second senior congress politician who did not want to be identified.
Some members of congress believe Randeep Surjewala, who took over for Agarwal, should have stood up to Nath's demands more forcefully. "Surjewala should have focused on Vyapam and other corruption allegations leveled against the shivraj singh chouhan government." "Our party did not raise enough issues, such as the shooting on farmers in Mandsour or the rape in Ujjain," said another congress veteran, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
After the previous assembly election and the departure of jyotiraditya scindia to the bjp, the party in madhya pradesh had pretty much lost the opportunity of effecting a generational transition. In Rajasthan, the experienced Gehlot was chosen over Sachin Pilot. While the party claimed to have settled the difficulties between the two, all it did was cover up the fissures. "The bjp put its house in order while we remained divided," a third congress leader explained.