Congress should work with its allies to consolidate the Opposition unity and focus on the future instead of dwelling on past accomplishments
Can the Manipur crisis impact the newly formed opposition coalition I.N.D.I.A. to its advantage? Can Congress leader Rahul Gandhi utilize it as another Opposition leader Mamata Banerjee did in Singur Moment in West Bengal in 2011? These significant moments are rare and unforgettable. Gandhi may face obstacles that could significantly affect Congress and the political situation in India in the coming months. How he handles these challenges will be crucial in deciding his future and the future of Indian politics overall.
The earlier attempt to raise a no-confidence motion against the Modi government sailed through last week because of the government majority. Now is a unique chance for Rahul to make a difference for himself, his Party and the Opposition. Between 2004 and 2014, Gandhi had the opportunity to become a minister in Dr Manmohan Singh's cabinet but did not take the position. As the Congress chief in the 2019 elections, he could not lead the Congress to victory.
Party has been in the wilderness since the entry of Prime Minister Modi on the national scene in 2014, resulting in Congress being out of power for a decade. Winning the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2024 is crucial for Congress to regain control and calm growing restlessness. Rahul's return as an M.P. has lifted the spirits of himself, his Party, and the Opposition. He projected himself as a victim of Modi's political vendetta and gained public sympathy. The dignified handling of his dismissal from Parliament and eventual reinstatement, thanks to intervention from the Supreme Court, demonstrated great maturity.
Rahul realizes his mistakes. His successful Bharat Jodi Yatra, which covered 3500 kilometres from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, earned him praise for promoting unity and peace. During his Yatra, Rahul Gandhi rallied the demoralized Congress supporters. He presented himself as a self-assured leader capable of challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. It resulted in the B.J.P. and other regional leaders taking notice of his enhanced reputation.
Rahul needs to show maturity and develop a fresh narrative for the upcoming Assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha elections next year. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram are all preparing for the polls. The AAM ADMI slogan was instrumental in the Party's success and power retention from 2004 to 2014. Raising bread and butter issues that concern the common man is crucial. Winning these elections could be a critical step forward in Rahul's political career. Rahul faces a challenge in gaining the support of senior Opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar (NCP), Mamata Banerjee 9TMC), Nitish Kumar, J.D. (U)Akhilesh Yadav (S.P.), and M.K. Stalin(D.M.K.).
Following Rahul's disqualification, the Opposition worked towards unity and agreed to move forward with an alliance, which included the Congress, despite their differences. It accommodated the needs of the smaller regional parties, treating them as equals. After Congress President Mallikharjun Kharge stated that Congress is not vying for the Prime Minister position, Rahul is now more acceptable to the coalition partners. Despite Prime Minister Modi's goal of a Congress-free India, the Congress party is gaining momentum. The popularity of Gandhi is increasing steadily, thanks to the pan-national nature of the Congress party across the country. It is after the Bharat Jodo yatra and Rahul's expulsion from Parliament after a Modi sir name case verdict. In 2019, Rahul resigned from his position as Congress President. However, he still makes decisions for the Party. He must take responsibility and work openly instead of operating behind the scenes.
Rahul, as the Leader of the main opposition party, must guide and shape the new alliance called I.N.D.I.A. The recent no-confidence debate showed that the coalition of 26 parties is united. Congress should work with its allies and focus on the future instead of dwelling on past accomplishments. Gandhi must tackle organizational, electoral, and ideological obstacles to succeed, including the challenge posed by the dynasty. To reach the voters, there is a need to focus on urgent issues such as the rising cost of living, inflation, and affordability of necessities like food and milk. While Rahul's emphasis on Congress' ideology is crucial, a new narrative focusing on the people's fundamental concerns is equally essential.
It is essential to reorganize the Party and establish strong booth committees at the gross root level. Gandhi must assign the right person to the right job. According to the coalition's strength, it is vital to feel a strong candidate from I.N.D.I.A. against the B.J.P. in various states. Cooperation and flexibility are necessary for this endeavour.
Insiders suggest that the BJP may favour Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the Opposition, but Rahul is currently focusing on enhancing his public image. Recent polls indicate that if Modi and Rahul were to compete in the 2024 election, Modi would have a substantial edge. Rahul needs to prepare for this challenge and avoid making any missteps. Rahul Gandhi has presented himself as a self-assured leader, prepared to face Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Additionally, he has announced that the second portion of the Bharat Jodo yatra will be initiated shortly.
(The writer is a popular columnist. The views expressed are personal)