While the BJP might think they have been able to stand by their promise of “intention and courage”, by implementing the most breakthrough ( or some might say disruptive) policies, controversy never fails to attract negativity and objection. While some elements introduced by the modi govt are novel in spirit and character, others are more like revamped versions of remnants of the past. In order to give a centrist vibe while staying in the RSS shed, the BJP is seemingly losing the vote bank regime. To top it all off, some media moguls like ABP and CVoter have come to hint a bright future for congress. Thus, in the light of all these developments, it won’t be wrong to expect daring strategies and manoeuvers from the party, especially when assembly election in the center and some major states are just round the corner. Things steamed up with re-forming of the Congress working Committee (CWC) the party’s highest decision-making body, under the president ship of Rahul Gandhi.
How the Congress plans to deal with the minorities?
Congress will continue to lash out against the ruling government under Modi, for neglect and ill treatment of minorities. Prime congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor have taken on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “silence” on cow vigilantism and “rising intolerance” in the country. The intolerance surrounding the actions of cow vigilantism is the prime target of the party.
On communal lines, Once again Tharoor went on to make a scathing remark on the BJP, saying if the NDA comes back to power in 2019, the country will be converted into a theocratic state — a Hindu Pakistan. Tharoor’s statement has also resulted in several minority groups supporting him and this is exactly what he wanted. Tharoor also wanted to set aside the general feeling in the state Congress that he is a pushover given his lack of grassroot support and has carefully tried to reinvent himself. While the BJP has a strong Hindu identity and also has never shy about it, the Congress has no plans to portray itself as a “Muslim party” as an electoral alternative. They have probably taken their lesson from the blunders done during 1985. Therefore, in order to counter the BJP’s rhetoric, Congress has come to give more prominence to acts like the temple visits by Rahul Gandhi especially in states where assembly elections are also round the corner.
Prospects of coalition views on Rahul’s leadership
In its first meeting last month, the Congress Working Committee had decided not to lose any more time to firm up the grand alliance for the upcoming polls. It also decided that the party president Rahul Gandhi would take a call on bringing together like-minded parties to take on the ruling BJP. The Congress has reached a “strategic understanding” with Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party. However, its association with parties like Shiv Sena and Aam Aadmi Party are still a far cry. He would also be the party’s candidate for the Prime Ministerial post.
Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi in a recent event at London School of Economics said that he is indeed, fighting an ideological battle, and was not just driven by the prime ministerial ambitions, because the realisation that there’s a risk to Indian state, to the Indian way of doing things has dawned upon him and he is defending that, this came after the results of 2014 general elections. Another observation made by Rahul Gandhi after the 2014 polls were that there is an internal fight taking place between the older generation and the younger generation leaders in the party. It was the question of striking a balance in the battle of GenNext versus OldGaurd, where the Congress ran into trouble. He also went on to say that they cannot neglect the past as the seniors have a lot of values and experience. These comments seem to have a positive impact on Gandhi’s image not just among other eminent leaders within the party, but, also the allies. The 78-year-old CPI supremo, Sharad Pawar is delighted by the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s recent remarks that he was not driven by prime ministerial ambitions, Pawar said in a statement.
Will the corruption blame game to continue?
The party has made it clear that the Congress campaign for the 2019 elections would majorly revolve around the issues of “corruption under the BJP government”. It also became a major topic of the recent meetings of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body in the party. The Rafale deal is going to be the main focus of Congress against BJP in its propaganda in the 2019 polls. This was made evident in a statement made by Arjun Modhwadia, the general secretary of All India Congress. “The leaders will reach out to party workers and the people in general, highlighting the hurry with which the Modi government bought the Rafale aircraft for an escalated price, causing losses to the public exchequer…. Promoting crony capitalism”. Congress also highlighted how Reliance got the 36,000 crore deal at the cost of the public sector firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. This is to legitimise Congress’ allegations that BJP’s policies are overshadowed by its intention of immorally extracting donations and other favours for the party. Just after the second meeting of the newly formed CWC Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the BJP-led NDA government was instrumental in Mehul Choksi’s escape to Antigua and Barbuda.
What should the Congress party expect?
The Congress is more than likely to keep the idea of a coalition with multiple parties. This is because, despite the fact that Congress might perform “better” in the polls, it doesn’t mean that it is going to emerge as the single largest party in all states or even the Lok sabha.
In an analysis of the composition of these bodies shows that Muslim representation in the two apex Congress bodies has fallen to a historic low in 2018. The share of Muslims in the CWC has declined by 3 percentage points over the past four years to 7%. Thus, even if the Congress does not want itself to be tagged as a Muslim party, it must not sacrifice its golden centrist characteristic, just to bank on the lucrative votes of Hindu majority. Another thing the Congress must expect is that while lashing out on BJP on communal and minority issues might fetch some support from minority groups of the country, they should also be ready for counter allegations from the other side. BJP bringing up the issue of responsibility of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, is an example.
The Congress party also plans to highlight the failure of the BJP government to create jobs and improving the state of education and healthcare sectors as a part of their campaigning strategy. It will also continue to push for the cause of replacing EVMs with ballot papers. However, solely highlighting the drawbacks of the BJP government and indulging in overrated baseless debates and controversies won’t make Congress a better choice in the eyes of the people.