Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India
PRIYANKA and Rahul Gandhi have certainly stolen the limelight after the Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy of October 3. The former, in particular, took the battle into the BJP half, and thus pushed the Yogi Adityanath government into the backfoot.
But the big question is whether the Congress party would be able to politically encash the soft corner created in its favour after the visit of Priyanka and Rahul to Lakhimpur Kheri? As the Assembly election is round the corner in Uttar Pradesh
this question is bound to arise.
As the Congress plans to make a comeback on the basis of the almost same social base which, in the last few years, have been backing the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is still not so easy to revive the party in Uttar Pradesh–and that too when the Assembly election is five months from now. Still the Congress strategists are hopeful that if the party cuts into the BJP’s upper caste votes it would considerably weaken the saffron party and may pave the way for Samajwadi Party.
Since the social base of the Samajwadi Party is more or less intact it is thus in
the best position to put a fight to the BJP. Not only that it has joined hands with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has considerable hold over the Jats of west UP. The Jats, along with other farmers, have been on warpath against the three farm laws enacted in September last year. Last time they strongly voted for the BJP.
No doubt Uttar Pradesh sends 80 members to the Lower House of Parliament, which is the highest in India and the strength of state Assembly is 403, yet if the Congress seriously wants to come into reckoning it should put more energy in the states where it is in direct tussle with the BJP and where there is no third force. In states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha etc there are strong regional parties and organisationally, Congress is in a poor shape, the latter can certainly go in alliance with Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress or even Biju Janata Dal as they are somewhat like-minded
parties. At times it can go for friendly fight with them.
True, Uttar Pradesh has once been traditional Congress bastion and members of the Nehru-Gandhi family have been contesting Lok Sabha polls from various constituencies in the state. Be it the first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, or his daughter Indira Gandhi, her two sons Rajiv and Sanjay, two daughters-in-law, Sonia and Meneka and two grandsons, Rahul and Varun, all have won from different seats of UP in the last seven decades. In that way the family can claim to have emotional attachment with the state.
But the changing ground reality prompted Rahul to contest from two seats in the last Lok Sabha poll of 2019. His fear proved right as he lost from Amethi parliamentary constituency of UP.
There is no problem in raising the burning issues of UP as it is going to poll, but if the Congress party really wants to stage a comeback its senior leaders, obviously the Nehru-Gandhi scion should concentrate in states like Madhya PraGujarat, Karnataka, etc where it is not only in direct tussle with the BJP, but where the party is out of power.
Contesting from Wayanad in Kerala might have helped Rahul revive the Congress party in the Lok Sabha poll (it won 19 out of 20 seats)–though it lost in the Assembly poll–it would have been much better had he fought from the three BJP-ruled states. Sonia and Priyanka too should opt for any state other than UP and thus avoid the division of non-BJP votes.
Since in the foreseeable future it is difficult to revive Congress in UP, Bihar,
West Bengal and Odisha the party should put all its efforts to emerge as an alternative in other states where the BJP is facing serious incumbency factor.
In Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka the BJP is really in a shambles and there is no party other than Congress to put up a challenge. The Aam Aadmi Party in Gujarat did try to make some inroads, but it got limited success. If Rahul, Priyanka and Sonia announce that they would contest next Lok Sabha polls from
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka respectively it would give the Congress rank and file a big boost in these states. After all Sonia Gandhi had once fought from Bellary in Karnataka where she defeated Sushma Swaraj of the BJP in 1999 Lok Sabha poll.