Pragmatic Shift In Opposition

The Grand Old Party looks ready for pragmatic alliance ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Polls

By Ashok Bhan

At the well attended 84th Plenary Session of the Indian National Congress, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi was unflinching in his aggressive criticism to the Modi led BJP Government on its failing record on Country’s economic management, social harmony, protection of the institutions & minorities ,eradicating corruption, providing jobs to unemployed youth, and justice to farmers etc. He also introspected about UPA’s failures during its term in office. He loudly proclaimed as CP he is likely to build a Congress Party where the gulf between the worker and the leader would be bridged.

Rahul Gandhi has by far emerged as the principal challenger to the Prime Minister Modi. A leader behind who masses can place their trust. He has the power to influence and lead from the front the Country through the democratic and constitutional process.

In India 65% of its population is under 35 years of age and there is a huge aspirational India. The Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi with legacy of”the tryst with destiny of Pandit Nehru, the patriotism & sacrifices of Indira Gandhi, the modernizer vision of Rajiv Gandhi and political outreach skills of Sonia Gandhi has a long way to go. The political and electoral success will chase him because he leads from the front, establishes an inclusive dialogue with masses, the congress karyakartas, promotes progressive narrative and creates a modern vision that resonates and connects the youth and the aspirational India. He is emerging as an astute and skilful leader with the art of turning all the palpable failings of NDA into an opportunity.

Country expects Indian National Congress under Rahul Gandhi to undertake the unfulfilled task of building Modern India, free of intolerance, hate and discrimination. Where the fruits of development reach the poor of the poorest, harmonious coexistence becomes way of life and all citizens are equal partners in the progress.

Indian National Congress after having ruled the Country through UPA-1 & 2 for ten years lost out power to BJP by being reduced to 44 seats in Lok Sabha in 2014.The grand old party suffered a setback worst ever after 1977 elections. From 2014 onwards it has lost elections after elections in majority of the States in the Country. It failed to form the government in Meghalaya and Goa where it emerged as single largest party after the poll results.

Rahul Gandhi has been leading the party for quite some time into the dust and din of mass politics. With his hard work, passion to lead from the front and skill to weave political understanding with youthful leadership and likeminded secular parties, he has emerged as the main challenger to PM Modi. Notwithstanding the fact that he does not have a level playing field with Modi.

The plenary session marks the transition within the Party and the shift comes at a time when Congress Party is at its weakest ebb with power in only three States and less than fifty seats in Lok Sabha. Party cadres are enthused and encouraged after putting up strong challenge in Gujrat, winning by polls in Rajasthan and BJP suffering a setback in Uttar Pradesh. But, these results don’t hide the structural weaknesses of the Congress Party at the grassroots level.

The political resolution passed unanimously at the session besides highlighting the failures of NDA, illustrates the collective will and Party’s political plan for 2019.It also manifest the failures of Modi Government on handling the Kashmir Situation. The Congress Party voiced with positivity the main tactic of forging a “pragmatic alliances” with other likeminded political parties. It has reiterated its openness to the pacts without claim to leadership that determined in post poll situation.

There is a dire need to prevent the fragmentation of anti BJP votes. The Congress Party’s main poll campaign plank will be economy, the promise of growth, welfare, farmers, jobs and intolerance etc. The idea is to capitalize on the failures of Modi government to deliver “Achhe Din.” Congress main constituency will have to be farmers, youth and women the three of the most substantial demographic categories in the Country. The party’s hope is BJP’s perceived push for homogeneity will bring it votes from South.

All that is needed, strengthening of organizational structure and cadres require great political motivation to win 2019 elections. The Congress Party does not have the major support of larger social and caste groups in key election States. It has to evolve a narrative of what it can offer. The plenary session has helped the Congress Party become a battle-ready, with enthusiastic, involved and dynamic cadres of all the generations, but the political battle for the Party will be hard if not long.

Rahul Gandhi has to keep in mind that he still has a formidable and powerful adversary in Narinder Modi. The Modi juggernaut is spreading the BJP political roots as a pan India party. Modi is a well trained Pracharak of RSS. He has a gift of the gab. He has the experience of been a Chief Minister. He successfully dislodged all his senior potential rivals from the race. He continues to command RSS support. He is the star vote catcher for BJP. He is perceived a passionate doer. Above all the big advantage and strength is that “he is the Prime Minister.”