Congress’s dwindling fortunes, in 4 maps
In winning Himachal Pradesh back, the Congress has merely repeated a pattern that has held since 1990
With its win in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress is now in power in one more state (taking its tally to three), but the results of the latest assembly polls do not show any sign of the party’s historical decline ending. The Congress’ underwhelming performance in Gujarat shows that it might be facing potential atrophy in one more big state.
That the Congress has been facing a historical decline in national politics is not news. Its vote share in Lok Sabha elections shows this.
At least since the 1984 elections – when it won its highest-ever vote share after the assassination of Indira Gandhi – the party has almost consistently lost vote share.
In the 1996 polls, its vote share went below 30% for the first time and has never gone above since.
In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, its vote share was under 20%, a level it had never reached in any LS election before.
To be sure, voters do make a distinction between national and state elections. Do the latest results mean that the Congress is seeing an improvement in its fortunes in state politics?
Drawing even this conclusion may not be correct. In winning Himachal Pradesh back, the Congress has merely repeated a pattern that has held since 1990.
The 40 assembly constituencies (ACs) it has won is also not its highest-ever seat tally in the state.
It won 43 ACs in 2003. Its vote share in the 2022 elections (43.9%) is also less than its vote share in three elections since 1967, the earliest year for which the Trivedi Centre for Political Data (TCPD) at Ashoka University has compiled election statistics for the state. It had a vote share of over 50% in 1972 and 1985, and a vote share of 48.8% n 1993.
In 2022, the Congress fell to a new trough in two states, Punjab and Gujarat, where its vote share fell below 25% and 30% marks respectively for the first time.