By Tirthankar Mitra
India will witness a slew of elections in 2023 together with the answer to the so far unanswered question whether Rahul Gandhi can rediscover leadership initiative in search of which he has failed and faltered in the last eight years of Narendra Modi’s rule
For 2023 is dotted with elections which inarguably pen the political script of 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Even as Rahul Gandhi continues to march in his Bharat Jodo Yatra it needs to be seen whether his walk revives Congress as the election results will reveal and pose a challenge to the popularity of Narendra Modi who is nearing the end of his second term in May 2024.
Elections are scheduled to be held in Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana. With BJP and Congress as the principal political protagonists and Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress pitching in, the outcome of the elections will be a pointer which way the political wind is blowing.
Alliances will be cobbled up and party policies redrawn as the key players have tested the water for the big fight next year. The last thing that BJP can do is to rest on its laurels resounding victories in Gujarat, UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur notwithstanding.
Come 2023 elections, the Congress fancies it’s chances in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. It’s leadership feels it will be entrenched in Chhattisgarh.
The biggest challenge to the Opposition leadership and of course, the Congress is how effectively it counters politics of polarisation. It is likely to worsen in the poll season.
For the fate of more than 100 Lok Sabha seats will be linked to the electoral success or failure of the elections in the nine states. Though it has to be taken in consideration that these results will not be the final word as BJP having lost to Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, a year later defeated its opponent in the Lok Sabha polls.
The AAP has bigger areas of influence in its sight as it has ambitions of becoming a national level political player. Its success in Punjab and small but significant forays in Goa and Gujarat has made AAP a bankable participant in 2023 poll race.
Now is the time now for Rahul Gandhi to identify himself as a match winner for his party after having criss crossed the country. Of course, he is far from stepping into the shoes of the great man who stirred his countrymen through his Dandi march, time is nigh for the Gandhi scion to display his leadership acumen.
Having stayed away from the 2022 assembly elections in the later part of the year as he was in BJY, the 2023 state elections are an acid test for him. For they pose a challenge and offer an opportunity.
The Congress tasted success in Himachal Pradesh election after a four year drought. But having faced humiliating defeats in Punjab and Gujarat it is back to a square one
Triumphant return of Congress to national politics as principal challenger to BJP is to be scripted in these 2023 elections. Therein lies the Yatra’s success as it would otherwise be dubbed a journey, without political dividends in terms of power.
Uniting the people has been stated to be the goal of BJY which many has derided as a maverick’s meanderings. Success in these state elections will see Rahul Gandhi as an astute leader with his finger on the people’s pulse.
Even as Rahul Gandhi is between the poles of revive or perish, another challenge lies ahead of him. In the event of an electoral success it has to be viewed as the triumph of his party and not his person as personality cult has been the bane Congress since the days of his grandmother, Indira Gandhi.
BJY aimed to address citizens. Electoral success or the lack of it in the coming elections will spell out whether Rahul Gandhi has been able to reach out to larger number of the voters than Prime Narendra Narendra Modi or fallen short of it.
The response of other Opposition parties to join BJY has been lukewarm to say the least. They will flock to the Congress following a resounding electoral success in 2023 state election but otherwise the grand old party will be no match compared to the BJP on Lok Sabha eve. (IPA Service)