By: Fatima Hasan

At a time when all the parties are planning strategies or supporting or forming any sort of Mahaghatbhandan for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, party activists are waiting to see what their leaders have in store for them.  On the other side of the race, people are wondering to figure out the potential leaders emerging out of this extensive planning to seek their vote. Alas, that is not happening.

Every time the general elections come and go but what remains is the Modi government without any change in the Congress. India is called a bi-party system for a reason. Over the years, the power has alternated between the BJP and Congress, including makeshift alliances, but today what people don’t see is a leader in the Congress whom they can vote for.  Recently, the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said a right thing by pointing out that as of now, there is “no alternative” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the country.

Just a month ago, Congress lost in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh but exceptionally gained in Telangana. Why have the people of Telangana trusted the Congress? As my understanding goes, it is because they saw a potential in Congress leadership. The other narrative is that as history shows, people have always opted for a change every 10 years. 

After two successful terms of KCR government, people needed a change and thus gave the reins in the hands of the Congress. In the context of the general elections also, people are just seeing a raw alternative. Opposition parties have to show unity and a formidable face who could take on the charismatic Modi. They should see Congress with new determination and leadership. 

What can Congress do? 

In Himachal Pradesh, Congress has a fair chance of winning the next assembly elections just as they did in Telangana. They can work hard and win and break the norm of change in government every term that has been in vogue in the State since 1990.  In Karnataka, too, the Congress should keep its hold intact. 

In terms of general elections, Congress was no doubt a single largest party in India till the 1970s. But when we go with the fluctuating trends since 1990s, we see that the people liked change in the government every two terms. Now that the BJP has been in power for two terms, the Congress stands a chance if it could manage to show some practical things [a charismatic leader, welfare schemes and development plans] in whatever time is left. Congress should try to keep itself in the ruling alliance of Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu.

In 2023, Congress lost in Rajasthan and the reason could just be the pattern that people usually follow there of changing the government after every term. Congress can still strive to win most of Rajasthan‘s 25 Lok Sabha seats, a great task actually in the same way as it won in 1991 without being in power in the State. In Madhya Pradesh, the voting pattern can be an excuse for Congress this time around but it can win in the next assembly elections. For the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the State, the Congress can focus to win a good number.  Congress lost in Chattisgarh but it can still win Lok Sabha seats. 

Never in his two terms was KCR unpopular nor was there any apparent anti-incumbency against his government. Then, why did he lose? Simply because the people needed a change. So, it was Congress versus the BRS. Will Congress at least be able to increase its tally in Lok Sabha in the country? With 52 seats won in the last Lok Sabha elections against the BJP’s score of 303, the Congress can still be able to take on the BJP with the support of other parties. 

The DMK, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena and YSR Congress proved to be strong parties next to Congress by getting 24, 22, 18 and 22 seats respectively in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The other regional parties such as AAP, Trinamool Congress, DMK and JD (U) can support the Congress. All regional parties and the Congress must reach consensus as they can be an alternative to BJP only if they are together and not individually. 

The reins at the Centre have been held alternatively by Congress and BJP since the 1990s. Thus, regional parties should understand the significance of the Congress and make it the face of  Mahaghatbhandan. On the other hand, Congress should work out a workable strategy and show the possibilities of wresting power. 

What Telangana Congress needs to do?

Now that the Congress has regained power in the least expected State where it was not in reckoning for the previous two terms, it should focus on   developing new projects or rectifying and reviving old ones, instead   of finding loopholes in the previous government’s schemes. The ruling government’s work is to improve administration and governance and it is for the opposition to evaluate its working.   


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