Congress has clearly not learnt from its recent electoral setbacks. On one hand, it is clueless about countering the BJP agenda and on the other, its leaders are getting demoralised.
By Anil Sharma
Congress seems to have lost the battle at least in campaigning and raising of pertinent and major issues in two of the states—Maharashtra and Haryana, where assembly polls are to be held in next few days.
Congress which badly needed to change its narrative is still continuing with the old one that the party used in Lok Sabha polls and which was in a way rejected by the voters as the grand old party suffered a major blow. It seems there is a mental block or ideological bankruptcy in the party to zero in on a narrative which resonates with the voters.
Former president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi still talks about corporate houses that are allegedly being benefitted by the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre. In their speeches, congress leaders mostly talk about Rafael and nimbu mirch. These things are not working on the ground it seems as of now.
It would have been much better for the Congress now to raise issues like unemployment and economic slowdown in a much bigger way and best bet during this period would have been to reach out to masses with its minimum income scheme or popularly known as Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY). Under ‘Nyay’ Rs 72,000 was to be given to the poorest families every year. As this is the time when voters would have liked to hear more about it and maybe it would have benefitted Congress more than nimbu mirch.
Frankly, we don’t understand the logic behind the campaign strategy of the grand old party. Whosoever has devised the campaign strategy and the issues being raised during the speeches of the Congress leader has failed to read the pulse of the people and mind you this is not for the first time the party has failed to raise issues concerning the common man. The party has become a repeat offender in this respect, having failed to learn from past debacles.
There was a time in the 1970s when Congress used to set an agenda for canvassing and other parties used to follow it. The tables have turned now. It seems BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is now setting up the agenda and the problem is other parties, particularly the leading opposition parties, are failing to counter the campaign style, issues raised and or the strategy of the BJP.
BJPs poll strategy right now is working well for them and other parties seem to be falling under the trap of narrative that the ruling party sets. To make things worse for Congress in both Haryana and Maharashtra some of the onetime big-wigs have either left the party or are not participating in the way they should have contributed.
Look at what happened to senior Congress leader Ashok Tanwar in Haryana. Just before polls to the state assembly, he resigned from the party. Tanwar was state president of the Congress in Harayana from 2014. He had major problems with the former chief minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Now he has decided to support candidates of Dushyant Chautala-led Jananayak Janta Party (JJP) in Haryana. It would certainly cut into Congress votes in the state and create problems for the party.
Likewise, in Maharashtra where is Sanjay Nirupam who once used to be the face of Congress. He is not seen much. He has also spoken against his own party on ticket distribution in Maharashtra. Nirupam, a few days ago, had openly said that that he won’t be campaigning for the Congress in the Maharashtra assembly elections. He was also absent from the rally of Rahul Gandhi. Though the disgruntled Congress leader in his tweet has tried to clarify saying that he was absent from the rally as he was busy in family functions and he had already informed about it to the Congress leadership, everyone knows the real reason. He is angry to an extent that in his tweet which I quote here said, “Speculations and suspicions about my absence in RG’s Mumbai rallies are meaningless. Due to an important family function, I was a very busy whole day, rather till late at night. Had informed him in advance. He is my leader and he will be always the same for me.
But why was Nikamma absent ?”. Though he is not directly naming anyone indirectly he was taking a dig at Milind Deora.
A party which is facing factionalism, where leaders are leaving it in big numbers and where the issues being raised are more or less not in the interest of public mood hopes to do good in the assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra, which once were the strongholds of the party.