By Nitya Chakraborty
The Congress high command led by president Sonia Gandhi decided at its Thursday meeting to start its proposed Bharat Jodo yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir within next few weeks and this yatra is scheduled to cover twelve states and two union territories measuring 3500 kms in 148 days. All indications suggest that Rahul Gandhi will lead the yatra and this mega show to be participated by lakhs of party workers and leaders, are meant to project Rahul Gandhi as the unquestionable leader of the grand old party.
The Yatra programme was adopted at the Udaipur Chintan shivir of the Congress Party in May this year and after long two months, the programme has been given shape with some details worked out. The sources say that instead of the earlier mentioned October 2 Gandhi Jayanti Day, the Yatra might now be preponed taking into account the need for exposing the Narendra Modi regime through the Yatra campaign.
Nobody can object to the Yatra programme but what is the timing? The Yatra even if it is preponed to August 15 for starting and then it continues for five months means that it will continue till January 2023. The two assembly elections are scheduled between October and November in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat and again the so-called Presidential election of the Congress Party is due in August/September.
Now which is the priority — preparing for the Bharat Jodo jumla or focusing fully on the two state assembly polls by year end and a series of elections to assemblies in 2023? If Rahul Gandhi has to lead the entire Yatra that will mean his absence from the poll campaign in Gujarat and HP. Both are ruled by the BJP and in both states, the Congress is the main opposition party..In the last series of elections to five states, the Congress lost in all states including Punjab where it was the ruling party earlier. After this latest disastrous poll results, the Congress has to give100 per cent focus on winning the two states from the BJP, but if this Yatra continues for five months as scheduled, the BJP will be getting a walk over in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh..
In 2017 state assembly elections in Gujarat, out of the total 182 seats, BJP got 99 seats while the Congress secured 77. The Congress did give a tough fight at that time. The BJP got 49.05 per cent votes as against Congress’s 41.44 per cent. But in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won all 26 seats with 63.08 per cent votes. Since then, in all elections, the Congress fared poorly, the latest being the civic bodies elections..The people are angry in Gujarat against the BJP rule but the poor state Congress organisation with no proper direction from the high command, is no match now to take on the BJP. In the coming assembly poll.
In Himachal Pradesh, the organisational situation is slightly better for Congress. The BJP got 44 seats in 2017 assembly polls as against the Congress’s 21. BJP got 48.79 per cent votes as against Congress’s 41.68 percent. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP got all the four seats with 69.71 per cent. But in the Lok Sabha bypoll later, the Congress defeated the BJP and presently, the BJP has three seats in Lok Sabha and the Congress one. Further, in the last rural polls, the Congress did well. The Congress organisation has improved in HP in recent months. It requires a big push by the party high command before the assembly polls by year end.
The poll strategist Prashant Kishor in his presentation to the Congress leadership last year mentioned of five objectives. First, the Congress has to reclaim its legacy and place as the political class. Second, the Party has to stand with the masses as an effective opposition to become the people’s voice. Third, the Congress has to share vision for an inclusive and aspirational India. Fourth, the Party has to expose the true character and failures of Narendra Modi government. But all these should lead to the most important Fifth objective that is winning elections.
Winning elections this time is most crucial for the survival of the 137 year old Party. Rahul Gandhi is only 52 and he has many years left if he is serious to remain in active politics. He has ample time to go on a discovery of India. Like his great grandfather, he can write even a new Discovery of India that is Bharat in the twenty first century. But for the Congress leaders and the Congress workers, getting power is most important.
For the opposition also, defeating the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is crucial. The regional parties are doing their job perfectly well. The Congress is lacking and this is resulting in BJP’s big wins in seats where the Party is directly contesting the Congress. This has to change. The GOP cannot change it by its Bharat Darshan while ignoring the essential task of focusing on winning assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. (IPA Service)