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Ensuing assembly polls, a litmus test for Congress

Ensuing assembly polls, a litmus test for Congress
Highlights

The Congress is yet to recover from the impact of NaMo Tsunami.

The Congress is yet to recover from the impact of NaMo Tsunami. Though it has been over a month since Sonia Gandhi has taken over the reins of the party once again, it is still to show any impact.

The party which suffered a major setback in the Lok Sabha elections by winning just 52 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha elections continues to be bereft of a clear route map to bounce back and is facing internal dissensions including faceoff between the young and old leadership.

The big question before the party is that can Sonia Gandhi revive the fortunes of the Congress party? The fact is that the non NDA parties are not united and even the regional parties got a severe beating in the elections. Moreover, the political stock of Sonia Gandhi also appears to be on the wane.

Though elections to State Assemblies like Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra are due to be held in next few months, the Congress party so far has failed to show any cohesion. No efforts are visible to face the elections either.

While the seniors in the party say that Sonia Gandhi has taken some corrective measures and at a meeting of the party general secretaries, State PCC presidents and in-charges, she laid great emphasis on the need for unity in the party and greater coordination between various groups and advised leaders not to confine to social media to take on the government but to hit the streets to highlight the misdeeds of the government including "mishandling of the economy," which had resulted in recession and loss of jobs in various sectors, but the party leaders are yet to wake up from slumber.

Though it is over eight days since the meeting had taken place, no PCC seems to have discussed the modalities to reconnect with the people. In fact, in the last five years, the biggest mistake it had committed was to keep itself aloof from the common man.

It was busy in trial and error method and handed over the leadership to Rahul Gandhi who in the initial stages faltered a lot and only towards end of NDA 1 government's term it started going aggressive. But somehow, his action plan did not help give a boost to the morale of the party workers at the grassroot level.

The cadre remains shattered and the internal differences within the party in various States including Telangana do not seem to come to an end. In the last five years, the party has lost its traditional vote bank.

The party has also been hit by desertions in almost all the States. In Telangana, it has been almost decimated, but the leaders continue to differ with each other. Their statements clearly indicate that there is no end to group politics which is resulting in further eroding the party base.

Congress leaders say that Sonia Gandhi has asked the State units to take up membership drive on a large scale using technology as well as the known manual procedure to enrol new members. This is necessary because the national party is now left with only about two crore members as against the BJP membership of about 14 crores.

What remains to be seen is, can the present leadership in various States enthuse people to join the Congress party in large numbers.

Another major setback for the Congress was to make the party wings like Youth Congress and Seva Dal defunct. The big question is, can Sonia Gandhi revive them?

The youth, it seems, are not keen on looking towards the Congress and are moving closer to the BJP. The party has so far failed to bridge the gap with the people and refuses to come out of its old policies.

It refuses to accept the fact the that politics is a dynamic situation and wants to pursue the political line which was practiced during the Nehru and Indira Gandhi's regime. The party had also lost some of its ground on issues like abrogation of Article 370.

While the youngsters in the party supported the government's move, the Congress opposed it and continues to do so. It wants its cadre to stand up and fight the BJP fearlessly in villages, towns and cities. Even on the issue of hitting the streets, the party has not been able to work out a concrete plan of action.

The ensuing Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana certainly will be a litmus test for the party. These States are top among those which are facing severe infighting at the highest level. Added to this, it also has to face by-polls 13 Assembly constituencies.

This however does not mean that Sonia Gandhi had not done anything. Party insiders say that she had taken necessary measures to prevent any kind of split in the party in Maharashtra and Haryana. She had appointed Kumari Selja as Haryana Congress president.

Selja is known to be confidante of the Gandhi family. By appointing Chief Minister Bhoopinder Singh Hooda as Chairman of Election Committee, she has tried to see that there would be no division in the ranks of the party.

In Maharashtra, she appointed Balasaheb Tharot as party chief. Maharashtra will be a prestigious election for the Congress party, and it does not want to take any chance there, a senior leader felt.

In other States like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Sonia Gandhi is yet to come to grips with the situation.

The party which trounced the BJP in 2018 Assembly elections is badly ridden with infighting which is increasing by the day. The party has thin majority with the support of Samajwadi and Bahujan Samaj Party. Though Sonia Gandhi held a few meetings with the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, the rift between the Chief Minister and Jyotiraditya Scindia does not seem to have died down.

Recently, Jyotiraditya slammed the Kamal Nath-led government for having failed to control illegal sand mining. "I am saddened by it and should be stopped. This was one of our election issues. We had openly protested against illegal mining during the previous the BJP rule. What's unfortunate is it's still underway," he said.

This clearly indicates that the differences between Kamal Nath and Scindia faction have snowballed into a major headache for the party supremo. Scindia has been eyeing for the post of party chief which is being opposed by Kamal Nath.

The fissures between the young brigade led by Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan and the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also do not seem to be coming to an end and the party which had defeated the BJP seems to be losing ground once again and very fast.

The party which had followed the principle of dynasty rule and never allowed any alternative leadership to flourish seems to be paying for its failure to adopt itself to changing political situation.

Change of guard from Rahul to Sonia might have worked as band aid but it is not able to cure the party of its ills.

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