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A defeat for the Congress to learn a lesson

A defeat for the Congress to learn a lesson

When the results of the state elections, which were supposed to be the barometer of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, came out, the BJP has won the upper hand. The party clinched a clear victory in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In Telangana, the Congress won the majority. The counting of votes will take place today in Mizoram. BJP's victory and the debacle Congress faced are beyond expectations. At one point Congress was expected to retain power in Rajasthan under the leadership of Ashok Gehlot; even during the final days when this hope started dimming, it did not expect such a huge defeat. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress was fighting under the leadership of Kamal Nath and was confident that the anti-incumbency sentiments and the tactics of the Congress would lead the party to victory. Not only did that fail to happen, but they also lagged much behind in the race with the BJP. Congress suffered an unexpected defeat in Chhattisgarh as well. At the same time, the party had an impressive victory in Telangana against the ruling BRS. Having increased its dominance over the Hindi belt, the BJP can now face the 2024 general elections with greater confidence. On the other hand, the clout of the Congress party in the INDIA alliance is set to decline. Naturally, these state election results demand a more realistic approach from them as they face the general elections.

Also Read - Despite 150 rallies, Congress magic fizzles out in MP, Raj, Chhattisgarh

This election has repeatedly proved that in India, as in many other countries, personality-centric politics hijacks democratic models. BJP has used brand Modi instead of highlighting the local leaders. While the party unleashed a clear communal campaign in Rajasthan, it emphasised people's concerns and development issues in Madhya Pradesh. It also directly took on the Congress’ slogans of progress and development. Even as the party changed strategies according to the regional situations, it relied on the Modi effect steadfastly. In the two big states - Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan - where the Congress lost, the leadership and personal influence of the local leaders not only failed to help but also backfired. Ashok Gehlot's personal politics has been a hindrance in keeping Sachin Pilot and his community together in Rajasthan. The rift this created within the party played a major role in the party’s defeat. In Madhya Pradesh, there are complaints that everything from INDIA’s general policy to the tactics of the Congress was subject to the decisions of a single person - Kamal Nath. At one point, it was even reported that Kamal Nath vetoed the decision to hold a planned rally of INDIA in Bhopal. It is the politics that has no connection with the people that has weakened the Congress in Chhattisgarh as well. This defeat proves that the Congress will not be able to face the 2024 elections without evolving alternative politics beyond individual and party interests and helping it get a foothold at the grassroots with the cooperation of regional parties.

Also Read - Celebrations at Revanth Reddy’s house as Cong leads in Telangana

Congress has to learn not only from defeat but also from victory. The party’s victory in Telangana is one such. Since there were no big leaders there, there was no internal strife. Rather than being personality-centred, campaign activities focussed on real issues. While other states kept the ideas raised by Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra in showcase and instead contested with untenable promises, the Congress in Telangana was trying to popularize those ideas. Campaigns and activities focused on the real issues of the people like unemployment, farmers' distress and suicides have yielded results. The difference between the failure to capitalize on anti-incumbency sentiment in Madhya Pradesh and the party’s success in Telangana is the difference in party structure and rapport with the common people. It was not that the ‘shop of love’ politics or the social justice slogans, like the caste census that went wrong; but the party failed to reach the common people and to maintain a close connect with them. The regional parties and groups must realise the importance of forming a populist alternative to person-centric politics. The gift of the election to the Congress will be the realization that it is not possible to lead the secular, populist politics that the majority of India wants to victory alone, a gift that would also become a ticket to victory later.

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TAGS:Rahul GandhiRAjasthanCongressBJPTelanganaMadhya PradeshChhattisgarhIndia NewsState assembly elections
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