By Nitya Chakraborty
All reports from the Congress sources indicate that the party high command has not yet taken a final decision on the exact role for the ace poll strategist Prashant Kishor in the Congress Party’s coming campaign for the state assembly elections in 2022 and 2023 culminating in the Lok Sabha polls in April/May 2024.PK had meetings with all three Gandhis in July this year and already two months have passed.The festival season is approaching. Right now, less than six months are left for the holding of the first phase of the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Khand, Manipur and Goa.In the next phase, assembly elections will be held in Gujarat and Himachal in October/November 2022.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already taken full control of the BJP election machinery for the poll bound states and for Uttar Pradesh, he is acting as the principal strategist for the BJP.The ground situation is volatile for the BJP in UP as the farmers unions have taken a position to defeat the BJP in UP in the coming assembly elections. In 2017, out of 403 seats in the state assembly in UP, BJP got 325 seats and this time, the war room of the BJP is desperately trying for a simple majority.
For the Congress which is in power only in Punjab among the five poll bound states in early 2022, the defeat of BJP in at least two out of four states ruled by the saffrons, is essential to improve the Congress image and only such a performance will enhance its stature among the opposition parties who are jointly working out a strategy to fight BJP in the coming elections.The last meeting of the 19 opposition parties held on August 20 gave the clear call that the Modi Government has to be replaced in 2024 Lok Sabha elections and for that the opposition parties have to do everything to make that possible before 2024.
But how to make it possible at ground level? Congress is the main political party fighting BJP in most of the states in the coming elections and only the strengthening of the Congress can make the task of defeating BJP easier in 2024 Lok Sabha elections. That process has to start from the coming assembly elections itself and immediate induction of PK in the campaign planning is imperative for the success of Congress and opposition strategy.
Reports say that some Congress leaders want that PK should focus only on 2024 Lok Sabha elections and should have no role in the assembly elections.If these are true, this is suicidal, Only a success in the state assembly elections by the Congress and the opposition in the assembly elections in 2022 and 2023 can build the base for opposition thrust and this is the field where PK can show his mettle and he should be allowed to play his role. If BJP retains the four states out of the five poll bound as of now, the Congress will got weakened and that will give BJP a big boost in the coming campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.PK’s task in helping the Congress for Lok Sabha elections, will be extremely difficult in that post assembly elections situation.
It is in this context, the Congress leadership has to take immediate decision to finalise its deal with PK for both assembly and Lok Sabha elections.The state assembly elections are most crucial in the present state of national politics and that should be the starting point for Congress turn around. A recent poll forecast by ABP Anand and C Voter says that the BJP will retain all the four states, UP, Uttar Khand, Manipur and Goa and in Punjab, AAP will be the leading party followed by the Congress. Though this is too early and the survey might not have taken into account the full impact of farmers unions decision, but still, the Congress has reasons to be worried about Punjab. AAP has certainly emerged as a potential rival to the Congress as the Akali Dal and BJP support base has declined.Thus the task of the Congress leadership has become tougher and fresh focus has to be given on Punjab to ensure that the state is retained by the Congress.
Nearly three weeks have passed since the holding of the opposition meeting on August 20 but there is no news about the formation of the core committee which Mamata Banerjee had suggested and Sonia Gandhi agreed.The committee has to consist of powerful regional leaders and it should meet regularly to monitor the activities of the anti-BJP movement in the country.The coming agitation of the opposition from September 20 and 30 has to be made a big success and this has to be an all pervasive one in the poll bound states.The continuing agitation against the policies of the Modi Government and the BJP’s divisive policies can only unify the common masses who are suffering most due to job loss, low income and acute unemployment problem.
The Opposition has to widen its support base by including the civil society bodies who have been consistently fighting against the policies of the Modi government and the BJP. There are lawyers, journalists, retired bureaucrats, medical doctors, scientists and academicians who are all worried at the erosion of the democracy under Modi regime and the dilution of scientific approach. They have to be brought into the ambit of the anti-BJP front.In Bengal, the civil society groups played an important role in mobilising opinion against the communal policies of the BJP in the recent assembly elections. The BJP could be decisively defeated because of the active support of these civic societies.
In sum, the coming battle has to be turned into BJP versus the rest led by both the Congress and the anti-BJP regional parties. Every opportunity has to be tapped and every chink in BJP armoury has to be exploited. The Congress, despite all its organisational weaknesses and factional infighting in the states, is the only national party with bases in all states to challenge the BJP. History has shown that whenever the Congress has weakened in a substantial manner, BJP has taken the advantage.2024 Lok Sabha poll has thrown up that maha challenge. A combination of charged Congress and the regional parties has to offer to the voters of India a viable alternative to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP and earn their trust before the polling day.The anti-BJP opposition has to work on that trajectory.