Rahul gandhi
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi with Arvinder Singh Lovely and other leaders during a rally at Jahangir Puri in New Delhi on Feb. 4, 2015. [Representational Image]IANS

The latest blow for the Congress came just a few days ahead of the crucial Delhi municipal polls as Arvinder Singh Lovely, the former Congress chief in the state, quit the party to join the BJP. Singh said the Congress is dead under the current leadership. The target of the 48-year-old leader was clear: the current Delhi Congress chief – Ajay Maken.

Blame game has ensued as usual, with former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit hitting out at both Lovely and Maken. While she accused Lovely of betraying the party, she also blamed Maken, saying his leadership skills are not at par.

Besides Lovely, a number of leaders in the Congress have expressed dissatisfaction with the current leadership's functioning, and they were particularly unhappy with the ways tickets to contest the upcoming civic polls were being distributed.

Congress did not win a single seat in last two big elections in Delhi

The decision of Lovely, who was a minister in the Dikshit government which ruled Delhi for 15 years before the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and is also a key leader in this region, is going to hurt the Congress in the MCD elections. The party did not win a single seat in the past two big elections in the state (the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the 2015 state election) and with its cohesion looking increasingly fragile, there is little chance that things would see a turnaround in 2017. 

The departure of Lovely in Delhi is also damaging for the Congress, because the Sikh factor is always sensitive for the party when assessed in connection with the 1984 riots in the capital. While it will dampen the party's morale after the victory in Punjab in the recent Assembly polls, it will also boost the BJP's Sikh vote-bank in the future.

Trust in the Gandhis diminishing

The Congress' poor organisational state of affairs is once again at the centre of talks. Congress leaders are queueing up to join the BJP, not just in Delhi but throughout the country. The message is clear: the party members' trust in the Gandhis has gone down alarmingly and individuals are taking it up to themselves to secure their political careers.

sheila dikshit
Sheila DikshitReuters

Sheila Dikshit's "Congress gave them respect and honour" remark while criticising Lovely's decision also holds little. The political veteran herself is not much into active politics now and may be cut off from the reality that exists in the party today. There is little point in asking how a critic of Modi could join the BJP. Something worse, of course, must have happened in the Congress.

In a rudderless, leaderless and confused state, the Congress hardly has anyone to look up to to save its day, and hence the implosion. The fact that Maken broke down while listening to Lovely's resignation makes the matter all the more tragic. He was either shedding crocodile tears or he was expressing his helplessness.

Congress has ignored the exit of its grassroots leaders

It's unfortunate that the party, which is obsessed with shielding Rahul Gandhi despite his repeated failure to inspire supporters in elections, has overlooked those who served as its nuts and bolts at the grassroots level, digging its own grave in the process. Even the top brass looks to have lost the plot in the heart of the country where it was a dominant force once.