Congress strengthens its electoral machine
New Delhi: The Congress is gearing up for Assembly polls this year in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Until general elections in 2024, there are elections in Karnataka, MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2023.
In Gujarat and Rajasthan all Lok Sabha MPs were elected on a BJP ticket and the Congress wiped out, while in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal and Chhattisgarh the Congress presence in Lok Sabha is very weak, so state elections are crucial for Congress until 2023.
For the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Congress appointed high-level observers for both states. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been appointed chief observer in Gujarat and Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, will take care of Himachal Pradesh.
Gehlot will be assisted by TS Singh Deo, a minister from Chhattisgarh and Milind Deora, former Mumbai Congress leader. Baghel will be aided by former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot and leader of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party, Partap Singh Bajwa. Both states go to the polls this year. The officials of the two states, Raghu Sharma of Gujarat and Rajeev Shukla of Himachal Pradesh, were asked to grant more time to the states. Recently, Congress appointed seven working chairs for its Gujarat unit. Following a strategy of social engineering, each of these leaders represents a caste. Congress is also trying to send a message to upper caste voters that the party is trying to rise above its dedicated SC/ST/OBC vote bank and care about them as well.
The Central Congress leadership in Delhi has instructed its Gujarat unit to refrain from making personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi but raise people’s issues and target BJP policies ahead of elections in the Assembly, sources said.
The party will hold interactive “Mehangai Chaupal” meetings at mandis, retail markets and other venues in all assembly constituencies from August 17 to 23.
The party will print pamphlets and distribute them to all state organizations and they will translate and then print them in the local language and distribute them to the people.
The Congress task force has met with Gujarat leaders several times and asked them to jointly prepare for Assembly elections to dethrone the BJP which has ruled the state for 27 years. As part of the strategy, the party will highlight the failure of state government, especially during Covid and post-Covid.
Notably, Congress has witnessed high-profile exits in the recent past, in addition to suffering a setback in local body elections. Hardik Patel, who had spearheaded the Patidar protest, switched sides and joined the BJP. In the last Assembly polls, the party won 77 seats, but many MPs have since changed sides.
The Gujarat Congress had won a record 149 seats with a 55.55% vote share in the 1985 assembly elections, while the BJP could only win 11 seats with a 14.96 vote share. %.
In the 2012 elections, Congress’s vote share fell to 38.93%, while the BJP’s voted soared to 47.85%.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s threat to Congress also figured in the talks, with Congress scrambling not to let its vote bank be weaned by the AAP. State Congress official Raghu Sharma said there was no threat from the AAP and attacked the state government over unemployment and inflation. “Recently in Gondal a youth committed suicide, there are 5 lakh vacancies in the state but the government is not starting any recruitment process,” he says.
Congress wants to focus on people-centric issues and it is focusing on inflation and unemployment as big political issues. In early 2023, Congress will face elections in Karnataka. Recently, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited the state on party leader Siddaramaiah’s birthday and asked the faction led by DK Sivakumar to work together.
In MP Congress is in opposition. In Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the party is in power; in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh work in tandem, but in Rajasthan the question of chief ministry is raised by Sachin Pilot who is a candidate for the highest office and in Chhattisgarh the question of TS Singh Deo is not has not been settled. Sources close to him say “the high command should decide one way or the other and settle the matter.”