Exit poll numbers flooded TV screens on Sunday, when the last phase of polling for Lok Sabha 2019 came to an end. There was much debate and speculation as to what the future looks like for politics in India, with all exit polls predicting return of the BJP-led NDA coalition with a comfortable majority. Amidst this, Swaraj India head Yogendra Yadav stirred controversy when he said on India Today that the major national opposition party – the Congress – should “die” as it had failed to protect the idea of India from the BJP.
“I say this in all seriousness, without exaggeration, without anger, without any emotion – Congress should die. This was an election for the soul of India. At stake was the very idea of India. And if this party called Congress, which says it stands for constitutional values, which says it stands for secular India, cannot put up a resistance, cannot put fight against BJP, it has no reason to exist. This party has finished its historic role in India. Today, Congress represents the single biggest obstacle in the path of creating an alternative. If this is the broad trend, this country desperately needs an alternative to this divisive politics; and clearly, the established opposition has failed to do it. There is a desperate need for an alternative,” Yogendra said.
Why hasn't the Congress been able to keep up with the BJP?— India Today (@IndiaToday) May 19, 2019
Panellists at #IndiaTodayAxisPoll put forward their opinion.#ExitPoll2019 @priyam_manisha @_YogendraYadav @JhaSanjay @rahulkanwal @sardesairajdeep
Live https://t.co/4fqxBVUizL pic.twitter.com/LOvmDdG0Na
Retweeting this clip, Yogendra reiterated that the Congress was only being an obstacle to an alternative.
The Congress must die.— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) May 19, 2019
If it could not stop the BJP in this election to save the idea of India, this party has no positive role in Indian history. Today it represents the single biggest obstacle to creation of an alternative.
My reaction to @sardesairajdeep https://t.co/IwlmBmf75d
My expression "no positive role in Indian history" may have caused some confusion. I cannot possibly deny the great role of Congress before and immediately after independence.— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) May 19, 2019
What I meant was "no positive role left to perform in history anymore". Stand by that. https://t.co/4xJh3gwopj
However, many including Congress national spokesperson Khushbu Sundar, Apsara R of the Mahila Congress, and journalist Sanjukta Basu disagreed, reacting strongly on Twitter. While some said that the Congress had an indispensable role to play in the freedom struggle, others argued that it was the public discourse that nitpicks Rahul Gandhi’s mistakes and harbours animosity for the Gandhi family, which have done more harm than good this election.
I am congress..I am India..I am not going to die even if some such as you wish for..very disappointed with you @_YogendraYadav ji..why the onus is always on the congress to stop the evil?Let there be a collective force..remember process of decaying is faster than that of healing. https://t.co/9ExxNPytLV— KhushbuSundar (@khushsundar) May 20, 2019
Dear @_YogendraYadav if anything, INC needs a bit of love from likes of you, the Lib, Sec, Left and Center. Criticism of INC's past, nitpicking on RG's mistakes, personal animosity for family, boring rhetoric "INC and BJP are same" have done no good to the nation this election.— Sanjukta Basu (@sanjukta) May 20, 2019
Yogendra Yadav first said oust Congress, then said vote for AAP, then said vote for Swaraj Party, then said vote for NOTA and now saying Congress Should Die for not defeating BJP.— Gaurav Pandhi गौरव पांधी (@GauravPandhi) May 19, 2019
A Sudhir Chaudhary is much better than a @_YogendraYadav .. at least he didn't flip like YY!!
Why should the Indian National Congress @INCIndia have to die @_YogendraYadav? It's an institution that is interwoven with our freedom struggle. It's one thing to hope for a new and better leadership free of the family dynasty, but totally irresponsible to wish for its end. https://t.co/BHyVE5HFeg— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) May 20, 2019
Dear @_YogendraYadav Ji, what impact has your own party made? Aside from waxing eloquent from TV studios what has been your contribution to this elections? Your articulation has only served your ego and put you on TV. No more! https://t.co/gEZBez6P0W— Apsara R (@talktoapsara) May 19, 2019
I think the future opp to the BJP can come only from a group pf regional leaders who r progressive, young and not anti hindu or caste based. The Cong can b a part of that alliance. The key is to find a leader for this before any election. A new face/ Naveen Patnaik come to mind.— udayachandran menon (@kausay8) May 20, 2019
This is unfair. I agree Congress has failed miserably, but Rahul fought a good battle. Congress should change itself drastically, throw out old wood. But this death wish is too much. https://t.co/ehL3XWjXAH— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) May 19, 2019
No one has power or capacity to vanish the ideology of congress.. Congress is not only a party.. It is the soul of india.. And the soul never dies..— (@KanishkaRanjan1) May 20, 2019
Remember this.. #Opportunist
Others said that the Congress needed to reinvent itself to remain relevant, and that dynasty politics needed to be done away with in the party, and some agreed with Yogendra.
Poor @JhaSanjay - who literally drove a knife through his heart. But, you are bang on. Congress has to reinvent itself. For that both the current leadership and its band of courtiers have to change. You can run a government with Technocrats but not a political movement 2/n— GhoseSpot (@SandipGhose) May 19, 2019
If the dynasty is ousted from congress then the new leadership will be good. There are many young minds in the party but are not getting opportunity.— Hafnium (@Hafnium_India) May 20, 2019
Congress is the only alternative of BJP is future. You have to vote for stability not a 1996-United Front.
I am a supporter of third front. And I repeat Congress must die because there's a lack of leadership in your party. Your party failed to defend Nehru's image. And please stop calling yourself a secular party because you are not. And what Mr Yogendra Yadav said is spot on!— Rishabh Joshi (@joshirishabh744) May 20, 2019
Idea of India is bigger than @INCIndia @BJP4India. It has prevailed & it will prevail no matter who comes to power. Its safe & secure in the Preamble. Also, why should Congress die? Or did you mean @RahulGandhi should step down & make way for alternative leadership in the party? https://t.co/MbGptRiJu7— Aarti Tikoo Singh (@AartiTikoo) May 20, 2019
It's not the Congress, but the Dynasty that must die.— We the People of India (@India_Policy) May 19, 2019
Congress must reinvent its ideology (its idea of India) and must become a merit driven organisation.
Else it's a walkover. https://t.co/qQ2S9OZIHb
I think he meant that Congress in its current form must die. If exit polls are any indication the dynasts must leave the control of Congress to the common people just like the good old days when Congress was a people's movement and not a family run party.— Abhinav Sharma (@fermiabhinav) May 20, 2019
There were some who also questioned what Yogendra Yadav and his party were doing to help the situation.
Who stopped you from taking the challenge of stopping BJP from coming to power in stead of wanting Congress to die. You show the alternative to BJP. The whole country has seen your capacity. At least Congress is doing it's best not only fighting BJP but also EC, Media etc.,— Raghurama Sastry M (@raghu_madgula) May 19, 2019