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'Congress doesn't have hunger...'

By ARCHANA MASIH
December 08, 2023 12:39 IST
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'...for success like the BJP.'
'The BJP's work for the next election begins the day one election ends.'

IMAGE: Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi with Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy at the Lal Bahadur stadium in Hyderabad, December 7, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

"Rahul Gandhi pulled a masterpiece in Revanth Reddy who led an aggressive campaign for the Congress in Telangana," says Rasheed Kidwai, author and political commentator who has reported and written extensively on the Congress party.

"The Congress should send a message by punishing Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath. It is sunset time for them. A defeated chief minister should not be given any post in the AICC secretariat," Kidwai tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih as the Congress once again confronts a perilous future.

 

Where did the Congress go wrong in the Hindi heartland?

The party leadership -- the Gandhis, Mallikarjun Kharge and others -- gave a free hand to Bhupesh Baghel, Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot.

Since the above are seasoned politicians and knew the ground realities in their respective states, they were given the responsibility of running the show with assistance from the central leadership.

Meanwhile, Modi and Shah ran a centralised campaign, micro-managing it from the Centre. If the Congress leadership had run the campaign from Delhi it would have been accused of being authoritative. So it is a Catch-22 situation.

The Congress should have sought accountability from the state leaders. Rajasthan is a classic example of what could have been prevented. If the Congress had mustered the courage to replace Gehlot with Sachin Pilot, then the situation could have been different.

The BJP, on the other hand, has able leaders in Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje and Dr Raman Singh in the three states, but there is a question mark whether they will be made CM. The party will get a lot of traction if they find new and younger leaders as CM.

Rahul Gandhi had this chance with Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot, but squandered it. It is still not too late and the Congress should send a message by punishing Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath so that this is not replicated in any other state.

It is sunset time for them. A defeated chief minister should not be given any post in the AICC secretariat.

What shadow does it cast on Rahul and Priyanka?

They need well defined roles. Sonia Gandhi is Congress Parliamentary Party chairman, Rahul is leader at large and it is not clear whether Priyanka is a functionary or campaigner.

On the other hand, Modi, Shah and J P Nadda have clear, defined roles.

The Congress can't be run by proxy. The most important Congress functionary in terms of organisational hierarchy is K C Venugopal who is not an elected member of Parliament currently.

On the evening of the election results on Sunday, Modi was already talking about a hat-trick for the BJP in 2024. The BJP's work for the next election begins the day one election ends. The Congress, meanwhile, does not have hunger for success like the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi pulled a masterpiece in Revanth Reddy who led an aggressive campaign for the Congress.

The Congress should use leaders like Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot, Revanth Reddy, Manish Tewari, Rahul etc. They also need to have more OBC leaders in the party.

The party's strategy needs to employ robust research and analysis along with structured social media which is a modern day requirement for electoral politics. They need an internal election mechanism.

If the party had amplified the merits of the caste census and made all its leaders talk about it ad nauseam during the campaign, it would have made an impact in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Voters from the backward castes have voted for the BJP which was unwilling to say yes or no to caste based census.

Lastly, no Opposition can shun the media. The INDIA alliance does not have a cogent media policy. They should engage with media owners and ask them to deal with them in transparent way. They should present data to show that the government of the day is getting much greater air time compared to them and they also represent the will of the people.

Instead of being bad losers, they need a game plan to bring government to the mat.

IMAGE: Revanth Reddy with Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan during his oath-taking ceremony as chief minister.
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and others are also seen. Photograph: ANI Photo

What can be expected from the BJP in run-up to 2024?

Welfarism, cultural nationalism and the mega inauguration of the Ram temple.

Even if 5 lakh people visit the temple, they will go back and speak about it in their towns and villages. This is not polarisation, but fulfilling the religious aspirations in the civilisational sense.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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