New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was 43 years old when he took over as the vice president of the party on 19 January 2013, before eventually becoming the president of the party on 16 December 2017, a post where he continued until 3 July 2019. This period coincided with the rise of Narendra Modi on the national stage, which culminated with him becoming the Prime Minister in May 2014.
Post January 2013, with Rahul Gandhi’s mother and party president Sonia Gandhi facing health issues and making it clear that the party’s reins would soon be handed over to Rahul, all the major decisions in the Congress, right from the selection of candidates for Assembly elections to distribution of portfolios and appointment of party leaders at various posts in the organisation, were taken by Rahul Gandhi in consultation with his close aides, a practice which continued till he resigned as the party president in July 2019 following the party’s debacle in the 2019 general elections when the Congress could win only 52 seats, eight more than what it had won in the 2014 elections.
In his 2,357 days or almost 78-month tenure, first as Congress vice president and then as president, a post in which he worked for 18 of the 78 months, the Congress contested 44 Assembly elections that took place in the country in this period and won, either on its own, or in alliance with other parties, in 11 of them.
In a nutshell, Congress’ strike rate during the vice-presidency and presidency of Rahul Gandhi was 25%.
The Sunday Guardian broke down the Congress’ performance across these 44 Assembly elections in order to understand how the party performed in the six-and-a-half years of Rahul Gandhi’s vice-presidency and presidency.
The first state that went to the polls after Rahul Gandhi had become the vice-president of the party and in other words, its de facto leader, was Tripura. In the Assembly elections held on 14 February, out of the total 60 seats, the Congress won on 10 seats while contesting on 40 seats, as a result of which the party could not come to power in the state.
Next, in Meghalaya, the Congress won 29 of the 60 seats. Following the result, the party came to power, thereby giving Rahul Gandhi his first victory.
However, in the Nagaland elections that were held at the same time, the party lost with its candidates being able to win only 8 of the 60 seats.
The biggest win of Rahul Gandhi in 2013 came in the Karnataka elections in May, when the party contested on 223 of the 224 seats and won on 122, which paved the way for the establishment of a Congress Chief Minister in the state.
However, the party thereafter lost in Delhi (won on 7 of the 70 seats), Rajasthan (won on 21 of the total 200 seats), Madhya Pradesh (won on 58 of the 230 seats) and Chhattisgarh (won on 39 of the 90 seats).
The only saving grace for the Congress, among these high-profile losses, was in Mizoram where it won 34 of the 40 seats and retained power.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 9 elections, won 3.
In the next year, the party lost in Andhra Pradesh (could not win even a single seat) and Telangana. In Arunachal Pradesh, it retained power by winning 42 of the total 60 seats.
In the Odisha Assembly elections, where once it used to have a Chief Minister, it could win only 16 seats. In Sikkim, it contested on 32 seats, won on 0 seats. In the October 2014 Maharashtra polls, it could win on only 42 seats of the 287 it contested, while in Haryana, it lost power as it could win only on 15 seats.
In the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, its tally came to 12 seats from the 17 it had won earlier. In Jharkhand, the party could win only 6 seats.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 9 elections, won 1.
The first election of 2015 was held in Delhi where the Congress was wiped out completely and it could not win even on 1 seat out of the 70 it contested.
In the Bihar elections, which the Congress contested as part of the Grand Alliance, it won 27 of the 41 seats that it contested. The Grand Alliance comprising the RJD, JDU and Congress, came to power.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 2 elections, won 1 in an alliance.
Rahul Gandhi suffered a jolt in Assam as the party could win only 26 of the 122 seats that it contested, thereby allowing the BJP to come to power. This happened after senior party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, after unsuccessfully seeking repeated appointments to meet Rahul Gandhi, joined the BJP.
In the West Bengal elections, the Congress improved its performance by 2 seats by winning 44 of the 92 seats that it contested as a part of the Left Front.
In the Kerala elections that were held in May, the Congress lost power to the Left (CPM) alliance. The Congress could win only on 47 of the 140 that it contested.
The party won the Puducherry elections, as a result of which Velu Narayanasamy was appointed as Chief Minister. In the Tamil Nadu elections, which the Congress contested, as a part of the DMK-led alliance, on 41 seats, it won on 8. The DMK led alliance lost.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 5 elections, won 1.
In the first election of 2017, the Congress tested victory as the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress came to power defeating SAD by winning 77 of the 117 seats it contested. This was an election in which Rahul Gandhi employed the services of a professional election campaign manager, Prashant Kishor.
In the Goa elections, it emerged as the largest party by winning 17 of the total 40 seats, 8 seats more than what it had won in the elections. However, ultimately, it was the BJP which formed the government.
However, the Congress performed dismally in the Uttar Pradesh elections which it contested in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Out of the 403 seats, the Congress contested on 105, but could win only 7 seats. Congress was relegated to the fifth position after the BJP, SP, BSP and the Apna Dal of NDA and even Prashant Kishor’s expertise could not help the Congress.
The party lost power in neighbouring Uttarakhand, too, as it could win only on 11 of the 70 seats.
In the Manipur Assembly elections, the Congress won on 28 of the 60 seats, but still could not form the government as the BJP, which won 21 seats, formed government in alliance with the regional parties.
The Congress lost to the BJP in the November 2017 Himachal Pradesh polls as it could win only 21 of the 68 seats.
In the high-profile Gujarat Assembly elections that took place in December 2017, the Congress won 77 seats, 16 seats more than the last time, but still could not form the government in the 182-seat Assembly.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 7 elections, won 1.
The February 2018 Tripura elections were the first elections that happened after Rahul Gandhi became party president. However, the Congress failed miserably in these polls. It contested on 59 of the total 60 seats, but could not win even on 1 seat.
In the Meghalaya elections, the party could win only 21 of the 59 seats that it contested, thereby losing power. Congress performed poorly in Nagaland, too, as it was not able to win even a single seat despite contesting on 18 of the total 60 seats.
In the Karnataka elections, it won on 80 seats, down from 122 that it had won in 2013, but it was able to come to power by forming an alliance government with Janata Dal Secular.
In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the party came to power. In Chhattisgarh, it almost wiped out the Raman Singh-led BJP government by winning 68 of the 90 seats. In Rajasthan, too, it came to power by winning 100 of the total 200 seats.
However, the party lost power in Mizoram. It could win only 5 seats. In the Telangana Assembly elections, despite contesting on all the 119 seats, it could win only on 19 seats. The ruling TRS continued to remain in power.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 8 elections, won 4.
Until August 2019, when Rahul Gandhi resigned as party president, Assembly elections took place in four states—Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha. The Congress could not win in any of these states.
OVERALL RESULT: Contested 4 elections, won 0.