New Delhi: For Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, the just concluded Lok Sabha elections will not only be a test of his political mettle, but one that will also test the survival of India’s Grand Old Party. In 2014, Congress won a meagre 44 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, marking its worst defeat in history.
Exit polls for the 17th Lok Sabha elections can be telecast after 6.30 pm on Sunday, according to the Election Commission (EC).
To be sure, the Congress brass would be keeping a close watch on the exit polls to get a sense of what is in store for the party when the EC starts counting votes on 23 May.
For the Congress, the 2019 general elections are significant for many reasons. This has been Rahul Gandhi’s first general election since he took over the party’s top post in 2017. Gandhi undertook a series of changes in the party, including one that tried to strike a balance between the old guard and young blood. Hence, the outcome of this election and the exit poll trends on Sunday will give a peek into what is in store for the Gandhi scion.
“In 2014, we were down and out. It took us more than four-and-a-half years to finally get a big break when we ousted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from three states. The ongoing elections are critical because it will give us an indication on whether we have been able to retain that momentum or not," a senior Congress leader, said requesting anonymity.
With the exception of Punjab, Congress has failed to win any state on its own until December when it defeated BJP in the three key states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
Congress leaders also feel their performance in states where the party is in direct contest with BJP would be critical. In 2014, Congress had won just 2 of the 65 parliamentary seats which these three states together account for.