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Congress needs to work harder to compete with the formidable BJP

Even in the changed political scenario, it does not seem to have many options

Congress needs to work harder to compete with the formidable BJP
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The BJP is going to be relentless in its efforts to further expand its support base in the south and win more seats in the future polls. The party would like to work harder in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu

It is good to see the Congress party under the overall guidance of Rahul Gandhi championing the cause of socially and educationally backwards comprising SCs, STs, OBCs, and minorities, who account for nearly 85 per cent of the country’s population. As voters, they are a divided lot

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections have revealed more than what meets the eyes. From north to south, east to west, the results brought forth numerous surprises, some laden with profound meanings and messages.

For the grand old Congress party, the road ahead remains daunting yet ripe with opportunities. While the party has almost doubled its seat count to a century in 2024 from the 52 seats won in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, this modest gain, while notable, may not warrant excessive jubilation.

It did fairly well in Kerala and Rajasthan. Its performance was not up to the mark in Telangana and Karnataka where the party is in power. It did not win even a single seat in Himachal Pradesh, where the party dethroned the BJP in the Assembly polls held only a few months back. The party drew a blank in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. In states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab where the party fought the poll in alliance, the Congress won a few seats. Its performance was much better in Punjab where the party won seven seats in alliance with the AamAadmi Party (AAP).

Even in the changed political scenario, the Congress does not seem to have many options so far as its future poll strategies are concerned. It would like to play second fiddle to Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD in Bihar, Chief Minister MK Stalin’s DMK in Tamil Nadu, and the HemantSoren-led JMM in Jharkhand.

The party’s top brass will have to adopt a two-pronged strategy – first, further strengthen the ties with its natural allies and win over smaller players like Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) in Rajasthan and other states if any.

Things will be easier for the Congress in Maharashtra if the Sharad Pawar-led NCP merges itself with the parent entity. The TMC, also a breakaway group of the Congress, won’t like to merge itself into the grand old party. So, West Bengal remains a challenge and opportunity for the Congress to regain its lost ground where the Left parties have been rendered electorally irrelevant.

The second most important task before the Congress is to set its house in order in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where 7, 25, 29, 25, 21, 11, 4 and 5 Lok Sabha seats are at stake, respectively, totalling 127, out of which the Congress could win just nine seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. These are the states where the Congress is in the role of principal challenger to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Organizationally, the Congress is not in a good shape in these states and needs to overhaul them thoroughly by infusing fresh vigour in the party workers and grassroots level leaders. It is they who should call the shots in the party, and not individuals, liaisoners, sycophants, and merchants of money and power brokers. A change in approach has become the need of the hour for the Congress.

The formidable BJP’s juggernaut towards the south will pose a serious challenge to the Congress in time to come. It remains to be seen how the Congress high command ensures continuity and stability in acts of commission by the respective state leadership. Except for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the southern states, where 130 seats are up for grabs. The saffron party won 29 seats in the General Elections2024 – Andhra Pradesh 3, Karnataka 17, Telangana 8 and Kerala 1. Its vote share in Andhra Pradesh has gone up to 11.28 per cent, in Telangana 35.08 per cent, Kerala 16.68 per cent and Tamil Nadu 11.24 per cent.

The BJP is going to be relentless in its efforts to further expand its support base in the south and win more seats in the future polls. The party would like to work harder in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu where it is not winning an adequate number of seats but the message from the just concluded Lok Sabha polls is loud and clear that the saffron party can certainly improve its tally in these states.

It is, therefore, a situation of limited choices for the Congress to firm up itself in the states where it fared badly in the just concluded LS polls, and help its natural allies too.

In the recent past, the Congress focussed more on hype than investing time and energy in building its organizational apparatus at the grassroots level. Clarity of top party leadership in matters of organization and issues to be taken up before the public is of paramount importance.

It is good to see the Congress party under the overall guidance of Rahul Gandhi championing the cause of socially and educationally backwards comprising SCs, STs, OBCs, and minorities, who account for nearly 85 per cent of the country’s population. As voters, they are a divided lot.

The Congress must further consolidate its position among them by synchronizing its electoral strategies with their aspirations.

Supporting the caste census and quota for OBCs in proportion to their population is a move in the right direction.

(The writer is a senior journalist, author and columnist. The views expressed are strictly his personal)

Rajeev R
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