Rahul Gandhi must change his strategy
Congress’ pursuit of the Delhi throne will be a wild goose chase with no winning states.
New Delhi: Can a political party win Lok Sabha elections without capturing states? This issue is being debated in political circles in the context of Congressional debacles in Assembly polls recently. The big old party is still in no mood to change course despite suffering defeats in all five state elections. Congress seems to feel like it can sail through the Lok Sabha battle despite being a loser in state polls. Congressional decisions signal that little will change. The party organized “Sankalp Shivir” and focused on how to target the Narendra Modi government, instead of thinking about the reasons for the electoral setbacks.
Several announcements have been made to boost worker morale, but their implementation is unlikely. The three committees, which have been announced, have the same leaders who have led the organization since 2019. These committees will plan several programs including “Bharat Jodo” aimed at strengthening the party for the 2024 election struggle. But the question remains whether these efforts will pave the way for the party’s victory in the general election. Observers say the party cannot win the final battle of 2024 without bagging the states.
With whom will the Congress be in contact in the context of the “Bharat Jodi” campaign? The campaign proposed by Congress could benefit the BJP in the polarizing atmosphere the country is currently experiencing. Undeniably, the BJP has everything to gain from the secular debate against communitarianism. Moreover, Congress’ attack on the BJP over “community politics” falls flat. On the contrary, Congress seems to be falling into the political trap of the BJP. Now Congress leaders must decide what issues they raise in the “Bharat Jodo” campaign, which will take off after Rahul Gandhi becomes party chairman.
The “Sankalp Shivir” of Udaipur was also organized to strengthen the position of Rahul Gandhi. But he doesn’t seem to be in the mood to change his strategy. It seems to be less focused on the states, and its only objective is to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies. It focuses its attention on the states only at election time. This attitude weakened Congress.
What surprised observers was that during the brainstorming in Udaipur, Congress leaders said nothing about the defeats. In fact, their comments on the debacles would amount to targeting Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who were behind all the decisions. The growing base of the AAP also did not feature during the discussions. It is undeniable that the Aam Aadmi party poses a challenge to the Congress. The newbie party hurts the poll prospects of the big old party.
Rahul Gandhi and other leaders play down defeats, but such setbacks in the polls have instilled a sense of insecurity among leaders. Gradually, the fear of the high command among the leaders and the workers is gradually diminishing. The Congress does not appear to be taking seriously the upcoming ballots in half a dozen states which will, to a large extent, determine the fate of the parties in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. As a result, the number of leaders leaving the the party increases. Congressional polling debacles are the reason leaders like Hardik Patel, Sunil Jakhar and Kapil Sibal are leaving the party.
The party could have won some states like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Assam, Kerala and Goa. But he lost due to the inability of the high command to deal with the infighting in those states. The high command still does not learn the lessons of these states. As a result, the leaders of Congress-governed Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan do not fear the high command. In Rajasthan, congress leaders, deputies and ministers open up against the party government. With these leaders fearlessly working against the party, the meeting’s discussions are leaked into the public eye. All of this is happening despite a clear understanding that the BJP cannot be challenged without a united congressional struggle.
Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are the only states that can breathe new life into the party. But unfortunately, the inaction of the high command harms the electoral chances of the party. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel are facing challenges within the party. Their populist decisions are underestimated due to infighting. Interestingly, their rivals take cover from High Command while targeting CMs. All this is due to the weakness of the high command. Opposition in states run by Congress has an opportunity to fight back. If the leaders had learned the lessons of Punjab, they would have stopped the fighting in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The party gave carte blanche to Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh who will also go to the polls next year along with Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. So far, there are no reports of MP infighting. Thus, the high command is undecided on affairs of state. The leaders are busy informing the high command as they wish. The party does not have a single significant face to challenge the BJP in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat where polls will be held this year. Hardik Patel quit the party in Gujarat as the Congress appeared to have no idea of the state’s strategy. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her team will work for the party’s polling strategy in Himachal Pradesh.
But the party must focus on Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh where it can hope for positive results. Those who work against the parties in states run by Congress should be given a lesson. But Congress faces an immediate electoral challenge in Himachal, Gujarat and Karnataka. Given the prevailing situation, Congress is still not in a winning position in these states. What no political party can deny is that victory in the states can only pave the way to the throne in Delhi in 2024.