The only mantra for Opposition to blunt the BJP pan-India march is to know how to hold together.
A united Opposition with pre-poll adjustments would gather and garner, at least, more than 65 per cent of the votes that did not vote for BJP in 2014 in a purported Modi wave. Congress party has to make a common cause with like-minded and secular parties to defeat BJP. Congress president Rahul Gandhi will have to prove his astuteness, selflessness and political skills after Karnataka at the national level as well, to emerge as a uniting factor of Opposition before 2019 elections.
The by-elections results have convinced the combined Opposition especially the defeat of BJP candidate from Uttar Pradesh that if the unity is astutely weaved without ego hassles, the BJP would face flak in 2019 elections. A united fight by opposition has set in a pattern of the people’s mood, anger and courage to vote against the failures of the BJP-led NDA government. Be it the unemployed youth, the farmers, the industry, the working and middle class and the minorities, all sections are hit hard and colossally suffering by steep price rise and economic slowdown.
Government formation by Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka has changed the political dynamics and embolden the opposition to believe that Modi-Shah duo agenda to spread BJP’s pan-India base is stoppable. The combined opposition that has been trying to stitch up a united front of non-BJP parties is positively euphoric to take on BJP in 2019 general election.
Rahul Gandhi is promoting the Congress party as protector of the voice and aspirations of people and he succeeded in Karna-taka. He says, his party will always strive to lend political support to the people’s voice, and save the democracy, societal plurality, and the institutions. He attacks Modi model of governance as despotic and authoritarian that has brought major failures in the economy of the country; consequently, the common people are suffering colossal hardships. He is urging the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to knock out BJP and set a final stage for 2019 defeat of the saffron party.
Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have bigger role in blunting the BJP. Allies in NDA have not stuck to BJP. Shiv Sena walked away long back. Telgu Desam Party, a tested and tried ally of BJP, lashed out at PM Modi and his party to have betrayed the people of Andhra Pradesh and called Modi and his cabinet as brazenly denying the people of Andhra Pradesh their legitimate due, and hobnobbing with the sworn adversaries of TDP. Telangana chief minister is one of the premiere advocates for anti-BJP united front. All the other friendly smaller allies of BJP are sulking within NDA.
Rahul Gandhi has been leading the party for quite some time into the dust and din of mass politics. With his hard work, the passion to lead from the front and skill to weave political understanding with youthful leadership and like-minded 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. Rahul Gandhi has challenged Modi on his home turf in Gujarat and fiercely fought the electoral battle to bring his party neck to neck to BJP. Now Rahul Gandhi with the assistance of skilful party managers and a competent team of legal eagles Singhvi, Bhan and Sibal, succeeded in blunting Modi-Shah duo to rest power in Karnataka. It is a major setback to invincibility of the Shah and his team.
The only mantra for Opposition to blunt the BJP pan-India march is to know how to hold together. The immediate past Gujarat elections and UP by-election has shown when the Opposition unite and fight together the notional 69 per cent population that did not vote for BJP in 2014 election becomes real.
The political momentum will gradually pick up and the next year’s summer elections final would commence after the outcome of assembly polls later in the winter of 2018 in Raja-sthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Before Karnataka election, Rahul Gandhi at a well attended 84th plenary session of Indian National Congress was ideologically unflinching in his sharp criticism to Modi-led BJP government on its failing record on country’s economic management, social harmony, protection of the institutions and minorities, eradicating corruption, providing jobs to unemployed youth, and justice to farmers etc. He also introspected about UPA’s failures in 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 Modi. A leader in whom masses can place their trust. He has the power to influence and lead from the front the country through the democratic and constitutional process. The 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.
In India, 65 per cent 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 and sacrifices of Indira Gandhi, the moderniser 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 karikartas, 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.
Indian National Cong-ress 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.The last to loose is the recent Himachal Pradesh and Gujrat.
The plenary session marked the transition within the party and the shift came 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. The 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 Congr-ess party at the grassroots level.
The political resolution passed unanimously at the session besides highlighting the failures of NDA, illustrates the collective will and the party’s political plan for 2019. It also manifest the failures of Modi government on handling the Kashmir situation. The Congress par-ty voiced with positivity the main tactic of forging a “pragmatic allian-ces” with other like-minded 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 United Opposition Party’s main poll campaign plank will be economy, the promise of growth, welfare, farmers, jobs and intolerance and failure in handling Kashmir affairs etc. The idea is to capitalise on the failures of Modi government to deliver “Achhe Din”. Congress and Oppo-sition’s 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 organisational 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 beco-me a battle-ready, with enthusiastic, invol-ved and dynamic cadres of all the generations, but the political battle for the party will be hard if not long. The advantage with the party is that each household has a couple of Congressmen/women throughout the length and breadth of the country. Rahul Gandhi has the mandate of the entire Congress party cadre to unite all the like-minded and secular Opposition parties. It has the ability to make a common cause with all the other Opposition parties.
Rahul Gandhi and the other leaders of the Opposition have to keep in mind that they still have a formidable and powerful adversary in Narendra Modi. The Modi’s juggernaut has been spreading the BJP political roots as a pan-India. It has though been blunted in Karnataka, still 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 perceived a star vote catcher for BJP. Above all, his big advantage and strength is that “HE IS THE PRIME MINISTER”.
A united Opposition with pre-poll adjustments would have to garner the 69 per cent votes that did not vote for BJP in 2014 in a purported Modi wave. Rahul Gandhi has proved his astuteness, selflessness and political skills in Karnataka and emerged as 2018 mascot. The coming electoral tests requi-res a touch of difference and out-of-box tact by Rahul Gandhi; only then he and his party could highly impact 2019 election mandate in India. In 2019 election, the electorate would have to choose whether Modi of 2014 was able to deliver on his promises. The vote will be either for him or against Modi.
The writer is a senior Supreme Court lawyer and chairman of the Kashmir Policy and Strategy Group. He can be reached at email@example.com