Can A Laidback And Disinterested Congress Halt The BJP’s Juggernaut ?

Post Bihar assembly poll results 2020 there seems to be two moods clearly visible in the two parties the BJP and the Congress. For the BJP it is ecstasy while for the Congress it was agony.  The BJP has a reason to feel proud of making a significant impact in Bihar by getting 74 seats a jump of 21 from the last one in 2015 when it had 53 seats. Congress on the other hand have slumped . From  27 in 2015 to a dismal 19 more so when it contested 70 seats.

While BJP Juggernaut rolls into another state impressively , the Congress is now staring at a political oblivion. And after yet another poll drubbing the Congress vs Congress war of words have begun. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal in an interview was candid enough to say that  people do not see the party now as an effective alternative. His words sparked off a debate within. Rajasthan CM Ashok  Gehlot, Salman Khurshid , Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have slammed Sibal for his comments. Clearly proving that all is not well in the Congress.

Sibal’s comments came when RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari hit out at Rahul Gandhi for his campaign style in Bihar . He said Rahul was in picnic mood during polls. During campaign pictures of Rahul Gandhi at sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s Shimla home on a holiday became viral and gave BJP ammunition to target Rahul as a part-time politician. Rahul was in Bihar for three days while sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, General Secretary, Uttar Pradesh east stayed away form Bihar poll campaign so too did interim president Sonia Gandhi. There was in sense a belief that the Congress without any face in Bihar was hoping to get to power riding on the shoulders of Tejashwi Yadav. It was hard to see a Grand old party, which was once the party of governance banking on the a regional party like the RJD to come to power. The Congress had proved to be the weak link in the Mahagathbandhan and it was it’s poor showing that resulted in the Grand alliance missing out the opportunity to the form the government in Bihar.

Moreover, This is not the first time when Congress leaders have expressed their their anguish over the way the party is been run and suggested way how it can revive itself to take on the formidable cadre and organisational fire-power of the BJP.  It may be recalled that in August 2020 as many as 23 senior leaders wrote a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, asking her for “sweeping changes” in the party.

The list included five former chief ministers, sitting MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, members of Congress Working Committee and over a dozen former union ministers. Other signatories include AICC office bearers and CWC members, including Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada, former Union Ministers, including Bhupinder Singh Hooda, M Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Ajay Singh, Renuka Chaudhary and Milind Deora.

Former PCC chiefs Raj Babbar (UP), Arvinder Singh Lovely (Delhi) and Kaul Singh Thakur (Himachal) are also part of the letter which has been signed by current Bihar campaign chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh, former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma and former Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri. Unfortunately , G-23 as they were later called were quickly sidelined by interim party president Sonia Gandhi.

Introspection is not the solution until action on the ground. The huge difference between the Congress and the BJP is from the fact that while Congress is battling hard to contain the rebellion within the party post Bihar rout, BJP on the other hand has clearly set its sight on the next target it wants to achieve – West Bengal and keen to retain Assam, make inroads in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. All these states go to polls early next year. BJP has already named General Secretaries who will manage the party in these states.

While the Congress on the other has not shown any intent and continues to live in denial mood. This laidback approach by the principal opposition party means the much awaited BJP vs Congress face-off is now only hype and ending as a one-sided contest. There is no clarity when will be the next AICC session or a new president and rejig of the CWC. How long will Sonia Gandhi remain interim? Will Rahul stage another return as party president ? Then what happens to his own statement no one from the Gandhi family should be president?

The writing is clearly on the wall for the Congress. The Congress slide means there is no opposition that can take on the government head on issues like China, economy, COVID-19, foreign policy , Centre state relations, farm bill row, the status of CAA and NRC among others. The opposition has simply not been able to corner the government.

Not only in Bihar the bypoll results in Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh , Uttar Pradesh indicate clearly that the mood of the nation is with BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress cannot live in denial mode. Congress needs massive rejig staring with the Gandhi family. The constructive views of Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari,Ghulam Nabi Azad Jairam Ramesh, Kapil Sibal, Milind Deora, Karti Chidambaram and several others cannot be ignored in any way. If the party chooses to do then it will be their loss. So it is no or never for the Congress. Will they take steps to arrest this slide ? only time will tell. Well if they do not then the prospect of Modi 3.0 in 2024 which appears hypothetical now could become a reality.

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