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REVIVAL OR SURVIVAL?

Rahul Gandhi is a real leader—but only of top Congressmen losing this election

By Niharika Sharma

This post has been updated.

Indian National Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s move to contest from Kerala’s Wayanad constituency, besides his family stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, was a wise one.

As of 6pm today (May 23) the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which it leads, was leading in 90 seats, up from its previous count of 69 seats, but far from the winning 272. The Congress itself has improved its tally from 45 seats in 2014 to 52, but remains mostly irrelevant for now.

Meanwhile, Gandhi has conceded defeat in Amethi, his family’s bastion in Uttar Pradesh.

Besides Gandhi, other top Congress leaders, too, were shaken in their traditional strongholds. Here are some of them:

Mallikarjun Kharge

One of the seniormost leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Kharge lost from Gulbarga in Karnataka to BJP candidate Umesh Jadhav. This is the first loss of the senior Congress leader’s political career that began in 1972.

Kharge has won 11 elections in a row—nine state assembly elections and two for the Lok Sabha. But this time, he lost with a margin of 96,480 votes.

Digvijaya Singh

Two-time chief minister Digvijaya Singh is fighting from the Bhopal seat in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. He faced the controversial BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, who joined the BJP in April.

Now, preparing for her debut in the parliament, Thakur won the fight with a massive difference of 347,432 votes.

Veerappa Moily

BJP candidate BN Bache Gowda defeated the former union minister.

Moily, also a former Karnataka chief minister, had earlier dismissed exit polls predictions, which favoured the ruling BJP, saying it was to boost “market sentiments” and to break the opposition’s unity.

Gowda won with a margin of 182,110 votes.

Jyotiraditya Scindia

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia lost to BJP’s KP Yadav in his family bastion of Guna in Madhya Pradesh.

In 2014, Scindia had defeated BJP’s Jaibhansingh Pawaiya by a margin of over a lakh votes.

Shatrughan Sinha

In the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat of Bihar, two-time parliamentarian, now a member of the Congress was facing union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Sinha, who shifted allegiance to the Congress in April from the BJP, had been a vocal critic of prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

Prasad has won the battle with 595,490 votes.