Cong can no longer behave like Big Brother in INDIA (IANS Column: Fair Point)
New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Congress’ 3-1 defeat in the recent Assembly elections has put the INDIA bloc back on the drawing board and this time it won’t be easy for the party to dominate.
Having kept the bloc activities on hold during the five-state polls, the grand old party is now seeking its 27 partners and wants all to converge again to prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. However, post-election results, the bloc partners are seeking a new drawing board with each one of them wanting to redraw the lines on their terms.
The three-state results have changed everything for the Congress and its partners in the INDIA bloc. The five-state Assembly elections were projected as a semi-final to the 2024 general elections and the first test of the INDIA bloc. The Congress failed miserably in the three big states and also failed the bloc, which has clearly antagonised its partners.
This has been made clear by other major stakeholders in the INDIA bloc by staying away from the December 6 meeting called by Congress President Mallikarajun Kharge at his residence in Delhi. This meeting was called after nearly three months since the last meeting of the bloc as the Congress had turned its focus on the five state elections.
But, a day before the scheduled meeting, the Congress was forced to call off the planned gathering after many of the bloc top leaders stayed away. The meeting has now been scheduled in the third week of December. The rescheduling was an indication of the inner rumblings among the constituents of the opposition bloc. Many leaders are alleging that the grand old party ignored them, and itself was unable to win elections on its own.
With the storm in the INDIA bloc tea cup, will the power-sharing dynamics change within the alliance. That is the question now after the Congress’ disastrous loss in the Assembly Elections.
The partners have been openly expressing their disappointments. Whether it is the Janata Dal(U), AAP, Samajwadi Party, or even the Left, the bloc partners are blaming the Congress’ approach to the state elections, saying that the grand old party lacked inclusivity as it did not actively involve the alliance members in the campaign process. The INDIA bloc did no joint rallies in any of the five states that went to polls in November, and there was no seat sharing.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a jibe at the Congress, saying it was clear that the party couldn’t win the elections alone. JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi even expressed his concerns about the Congress’ poll performance and suggested the party focus on its survival.
The Samajwadi Party, upset with the Congress attitude in Madhya Pradesh, has openly expressed its discontent. And SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has made it clear that it is not going to be easy for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.
Trinamool Congress has said the Congress’ losses were “more of a Congress failure than a BJP success story”. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not mince words in attacking the Congress, and said its decision to go solo and not form alliances with other INDIA parties played a significant role in the unfavourable election results.
With unhappy 27 partners, Congress has landed itself in a very difficult situation today. Its bargaining power is not the same as it was when it won the state elections in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.
The INDIA bloc’s drawing board will be redrawn. The loss in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will weigh the Congress down. In fact, the wipeout in the Hindi heartland states has rather made it one of the weakest links in the bloc.
Three months ago, the Congress deliberately postponed seat-sharing negotiations in the bloc assuming that it would win the Hindi heartland states which could increase its bargaining position. Now that the BJP has massively beaten the Congress in three big states, its aftereffect will be very hard for the grand old party.
The Congress, which considers itself the principal opposition party, has only three states — Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. It is now just one another party in the bloc. With this, the party is now left with perhaps its worst-ever footprint in north India.
Despite aggressive campaigning on ground and in social media, the Congress failed miserably before Modi’s BJP. It lost even as it promised free doles, pinched caste senses, appeased minorities and demonised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And it also lost because it shunned its INDIA bloc partners in the elections. The same bloc partners will now make counter moves and the Congress will be forced to compromise.
(Deepika Bhan can be contacted at deepika.b @ians.in)