Congress gears up for elections

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Congress gears up for elections

Tuesday, 19 September 2023 | Kalyani Shankar

Congress gears up for elections

Congress leaders are upbeat after the weekend Congress Working Committee meeting in Hyderabad

They are ready to plunge into poll mode. The CWC, the Party's highest policy-making body agreed on several contentious and sensitive topics and planned its future course. The meeting was the first after Mallikharjun Kharge became party president. The Gandhis had a strong presence, with Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka attending the conference. Following three productive gatherings of the Opposition coalition in INDIA, the CWC. members voiced their backing for Rahul Gandhi's leadership and their intention to move forward with the Bharat Jodo Yatra 2-0. There was a sense of assurance and positivity in the air. The choice of Hyderabad as the capital of bifurcated — Telangana is significant as assembly polls are due in three months. The Congress has lost both bifurcated states — Andhra Pradesh since 2014.

After considering the political, economic and security situations, the CWC. emphatically declared that it is fully prepared for the upcoming Assembly polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha. Congress presented itself as an alternative to the BJP with the support of the INDIA coalition.

Congress leaders are optimistic about INDIA alliance. The Grand Old Party wants to play a primary role in the coalition and criticised the Modi government's failure on all fronts, particularly in Manipur and Kashmir. One of the 14 resolutions said, "The CWC. reiterates the Congress party's resolve to make the INDIA. initiative an ideological and electoral success so that our country is freed from divisive and polarising politics, the forces of social equity and justice are strengthened, and the people get a Union Government that is responsible, responsive, sensitive, transparent and accountable." In essence, this will be the thrust of the poll campaign.

This message serves as a reaffirmation of the Party's unwavering commitment to its alliance partners. There have been doubts about it because of the inherent contradictions among the players. The Party strategized for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram. It took note of the challenges including differing views between the central leadership and specific state units on forming alliances and adjusting seats with some members of the INDIA coalition.

According to internal assessments, the Party expects trouble from within its Punjab, Delhi, and West Bengal ranks. Party leaders in Punjab and Delhi don't support the rival Aam Aadmi Party. In West Bengal, the state leadership competes directly with the Trinamool Congress.

In Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP are closely competing for power. Based on internal surveys, the Congress party has a slight advantage in Chhattisgarh and a stronger position in Madhya Pradesh. Party insiders also report that the Congress is gaining momentum in Telangana. The Party organised a two-day event to celebrate Hyderabad Day on September 17th, which marks the city's inclusion in India in 1948.

Resolutions about legislative business in Parliament mainly centred on rejecting proposals to review the Constitution. The Party demanded the one-third women's reservation Bill and augmented reservation limits for SCs, STs, and OBCs. These measures aim to win over various voter groups.

The CWC also opposed a proposed Bill to amend the salary, allowance, and service conditions of the Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners. They argued that the bill may harm the independence of the Election Commission.

The CWC. has opposed the BJP's proposal of "one nation, one poll," citing it as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the Modi government has established a committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to explore the feasibility of conducting coexistent elections for Lok Sabha, state Assemblies, municipalities, and panchayats.

One resolution criticized the heartlessness of the BJP for celebrating Modi's G20 achievements during a crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, disrespecting the sacrifice of security personnel.

Meanwhile, the Congress is careful and avoids controversial topics by stating that they believe in the principle of sarva dharma sambhavana. Significantly, at a public rally in Madhya Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi recently accused INDIA bloc of trying to eliminate Sanatana culture and making it a political agenda for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. At the public rally following the CWC, Sonia Gandhi made six promises for the upcoming Telangana elections. Sonia has announced several benefits, which are as follows:

1.            Women will receive a monthly sum of Rs 2,500.

2.            Farmers and tenant farmers will receive an annual amount of Rs 15,000.

3.            Home loans who need them.

4.            Homeless will receive house sites and a sum of Rs 5 lakhs.

5.            Programs to support the development of young people.

6.            Medical assistance to all needy citizens.

These benefits were aimed at attracting voters with freebies.

The Congress, however, has yet to reveal its new narrative, while it is clear that ideology is the central plank. The Congress has to work hard to improve its position. The success of the Party will depend on several factors, including seat sharing, candidate selection, Alliance, resources, and worker support. But the worker's morale has been boosted.

(The writer is a popular columnist, views expressed are personal)

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