Congress fell victim to Nervous 99, India remained far from majority, what does this protest say against the government facing 10 years of anti-incumbency?

The country’s oldest party Congress, which is facing the challenge of survival after two consecutive defeats, has achieved good success in the 2024 general elections. The number of seats of the party has increased from 52 to 99. Congress’s seats increased but it missed the psychological advantage of touching the figure of 100. Its ability to lead a non-NDA government at the central level also became limited with the double-digit figure. Many political pundits have argued that if the Congress had won 120 to 130 seats, it could have played an important role in forming a coalition government, which could have ended the dominance of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). However, the performance of the Congress in three major states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat emerged as a major obstacle in achieving this goal.

These three states together account for 64 Lok Sabha seats. It was a dismal performance for the Congress, with the party winning only two seats, one from Gujarat and one from Chhattisgarh. Such a poor showing in crucial states underlines the party’s struggle to regain foothold in regions where it once had a strong presence. Despite having state governments in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana, the Congress failed to leverage this advantage to significantly increase its seat count. Himachal Pradesh, which many had anticipated could be a stronghold for the party, was completely dominated by the BJP, indicating a strong preference for the incumbent national government.

In Karnataka and Telangana, though the Congress had favourable conditions, it fell short of expectations, failing to secure even half of the available seats. In Karnataka, internal party squabbles and the BJP’s effective campaign weakened the Congress’ influence. Meanwhile, in Telangana, despite concerted efforts, the party’s message struggled to reach voters who were more attuned to regional dynamics and PM Modi’s appeal. This poor performance in these states highlights the party’s ongoing challenges in translating state-level governance into broader electoral success, pointing to the need for deeper organisational reforms and more engaging voter engagement strategies. But the increase from 52 to 99 seats signals the revival of the Congress and provides a ray of hope and a basis for future electoral battles. Party leaders have expressed optimism and a commitment to introspection and restructuring to further strengthen their position.

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