Prashant Kishor’s prediction over the weekend that the Congress party would be routed in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh didn’t require the formidable analytical skills of the election strategist. A day earlier, Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s exit from the party, with a sarcastically disrespectful reference to chicken sandwiches in his letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had indicated which way the political wind was blowing. Even the most casual observer of the proceedings of the mammoth Chintan Shivir at Udaipur could have come to similar conclusions. After three days of deliberations the party came up with a notably weak and unremarkable agenda — reserving seats for candidates under 50, a qualified limitation on seats for dynasts, fixed tenures for office-bearers, and various advisory committees —that scarcely reflected the depth of the crisis in the party. Much of this organisational tinkering could have been done without the elaborate exercise of a Thought Camp. It defies logic that the debacle of the past eight years — two stunning routs in parliamentary elections, the loss of successive states, a semi-permanent revolt by several of its stalwarts known as the G23, and the blunt advice of Mr Kishor — did not jolt the Congress out of the ennui that has played a stellar role in the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
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