Other than in Rajasthan, the effective presence of the Congress is virtually disappearing in a majority of states across India. Having suffered defeat in polls after polls in state after state since around 2012, the one-time grand party is now seemingly racing into political oblivion in the backdrop of long a chain of humiliating election defeats over the years.

As of now the culture of defeats has seemingly become the order of the day for the Congress. From the view-point of electoral politics, the party has now been reduced to a tiny political fiefdom of the Nehru-Gandhi family, advised by a few political discards like Digvijay Singh, Ahmed Patel or the Gandhi-Nehru family loyalist and Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress Sam Pitroda and such other political non-entities present in the Congress in abundance.

With Sonia-Rahul duo as centre-forwards and Priyanka at the mid-field, usurping the centre-forward spot at will, the Congress apparently with near-zero think-tank and the clear absence of any political sagacity or strategist, the party seems to be thoroughly entrapped in a political vacuum.

While Sonia, at times, appears to be possessing some organisational and managerial dexterity to cause the party flag appear amidst the dark political haze and flutter for a short while on the political horizon, Rahul from all ends has proved to be the biggest political zero that Indian polity has witnessed.

It is high time that the Nehru-Gandhi family accepted the hard and bitter truth that family background and political maturity are two poles apart. It is no wonder that today the Nehru-Gandhis have landed up in boats sans oars and compass in highly stormy seas. Even with a brute majority of 400 plus members in the Lok Sabha, Rajiv Gandhi proved that family background had nothing to do with good administration in a democracy.

With the party leadership going into the hands of the mother-son duo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, slipping & sliding, falling & flopping at polls, have come to stay for the Congress on a regular and routine basis. As of now, the Congress is playing second fiddle to some minor parties in several states.

In the just-concluded Assembly polls in Bihar, the Congress played the worst of spoilsport for the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance). Despite the 31-year-old RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav riding like a Colossus against the might of the BJP and JDU at the polls, well supported by the left parties that won 18 of the 29 seats they contested, the alliance was almost criminally pulled down by the Congress that bagged only 19 of the 70 seats it contested.

One feels Tejashwi erred in allotting so huge a number of seats to a party that has been losing support base like erosion during floods over the years.

Further, Asaduddin Owaisi AIMIM has only proved to be a ‘vote-cutter’ for the secular parties in the Muslim dominated Seemansal region by foraying into the electoral politics of the state. Owaaisi has already been branded as a ‘vote-cutter’ by political analysts.

Now that Assam polls are slated for the first half of 2021, the passage appears to be turning rosier for the BJP with every passing day with vote divisions and vote-cuts appearing almost certain to be caused by several forces at the call of the saffron brigade loaded with money power. Note may be taken of the fact that the ruling BJP has a well organised and well oiled election machinery backed by huge money power to trigger ‘magic’, spell ‘mantra’ and ‘manage’ odd situations.

In fact, a BJP heavyweight had already announced about a couple of months ago that with his close contacts with members of the opposition parties, he would play the game of vote splitting among opposition parties.

So far as the opposition is concerned, it is headed by the Congress manned by a ragtag group of people, notoriously directionless, disorganized, or incongruously varied in character and sans even a semblance of political maturity.

It is a party comprising of individuals who cannot look beyond their respective constituencies or segments thereof. No wonder, when an election approaches, they make such wild, stupid and totally, socially & culturally unacceptable demands like a Mian museum in the hallowed Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra premises to hang lungis and sarees. All politicians, big or small, across the entire spectrum may be told that there can be no compromise with the sanctity and purity of the Kaalakshetra, let the heavens fall down.

Likewise, at the opposite end, another set of politicians are resorting to the distortion of historical terms like Saraighat or the Mughals. While numerous battles were fought between the Ahoms and the Mughals over several decades, the most important one was the Battle of Saraighat fought in 1671.

A vast majority of the people do not know that the Mughal forces comprised a sizable number of Rajputs and the army was led by Ram Singh, a Rajput general of the Mughal army. On the other hand, the Ahom army was led by its brave and able general Lachit Barphukan and his immediate and most trusted lieutenant was Bagh Hazarika alias Ismail Siddiqui.

While in earlier encounters, the Ahoms registered a victory over land battles in greater number, there were more losses on the waterfront. However, in the battle of 1671, the Ahoms won both the land and naval battles. Significantly, Bagh Hazarika played a pivotal role in defeating the Mughal navy.

While the present time is marked by run-up to the election, it is sad that this is also the time to distort history in India to garner vote mileage by dumping all political ethics in the dustbin.

Unfortunately, that does not sum up the horrendous political dirt generation process that has already begun to gain momentum in Assam. In Bihar despite the Herculean role played by young RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Congress proved to be nothing short of a villain (in terms of seats won) for the Mahagathbandhan.

In Assam, in the context of almost clear zero leadership in the Congress, Rahul and Ripun Bora and others included, one only feels like laughing as to what the plight of the party may be in the face of the massive prowess likely to be displayed by the BJP juggernaut.

Further, can the Congress guarantee that the saffronists, with their immense power, would not field too many rival Congress candidates to play effective vote cutters’ role or cause many more defections from the Congress between now and the polls?

So far as its alliance with the AIUDF is concerned, considering the turn-coat role played by several of its party MLAs in earlier Rajya Sabha polls in Assam to defeat common opposition candidates (Jayanta Barua and Hyder Hussain), one feels it may be a much easier game for the ruling dispensation to play its game to rout the Congress-AIUDF alliance.

One should not be surprised if Assam witnessed the emergence of a local and powerful vote-cutting Owaisi in the AIUDF and Congress strongholds.

Worse still, the BJP’s vote-cutting machinery may be most powerful in the purely Assamese belts. There are too many so-called Assamese chauvinist groups/parties already flexing muscles to lock horns, even against each other, in the upcoming polls.

The politically conscious can clearly see the writing on the wall that many of these groups/parties would only cut the opposition votes to ensure the victory of the saffron brigade.

The way the Assam Accord has found its way to the political dustbin and several other such documents are seemingly following suit while CAA has become the law of the land, there is a clear possibility of this election signalling the beginning of the indigenous Assamese community heading towards becoming a ‘Lost Tribe’ in the coming decades.

As of now, the tall claim of 100 plus seats to be won made by the BJP does not appear to be a wild call by any stretch of the imagination. Too many indigenous and non-indigenous groups are already in the open to assist the saffronists to realise their 100 mark. Reinforced by the opposition comprising of the Congress, AIUDF and others already in a shambles, the BJP appears to be all set to have the last laugh.

Talmizur Rahman

Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at rahmantmz5@gmail.com