BJP vs. Congress — Hunger For Victory vs. Laid-Back Attitude

Vipin Pubby

Vipin Pubby

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The Congress not only lost in all the five states but also faced humiliation in the state where it was the ruling party, Punjab.

A day after the resounding victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, when it was time for its leaders to relax and rejoice over the landmark victory, prime minister Narendra Modi was in Gujarat to kick start the party’s campaign for next assembly elections in that state.

This reflects the single minded determination and hunger for victory within the Bharatiya Janata Party despite the fact that it has emerged by far as the top party in the country. The recent assembly elections have not only further sealed its position but it is also appearing invincible at least in the near future.

In sharp contrast is the laid-back response from a party that ruled the country for over 60 years and enjoyed complete hegemony over almost the entire country for long period of time. The Congress not only lost in all the five states but also faced humiliation in the state where it was the ruling party – Punjab – ceding space to Aam Aadmi Party which is working towards filing the vacuum being left by the Congress.

PM Modi during Gujarat visit

While Modi’s visit to his home state Gujarat, where he was given a enthusiastic welcome and which is going for elections later this year, speaks of the long term strategies adopted by the BJP, the Congress meeting to take stock of the situation appeared lacking in any kind of urgency to set its house in order.

Barring a few voices expressing concern over the disastrous results for the party, it was decided “unanimously” to ask Sonia Gandhi to remain the caretaker President till the organisational elections take place as scheduled in September this year.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that a Chintin Shivir will be held soon to discuss the roadmap for the future. He said “every Congress worker wants Rahul Gandhi to lead the party in the future” signifying that the party high command had already made up the mind to anoint Rahul Gandhi as the next president of the party.

Incidentally Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik were the only three from the Group of 23 leaders who participated in the meeting of the CWC, which has a large number of Gandhi family loyalists. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not attend the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, the chorus for making Rahul Gandhi Congress president again grew louder as several leaders and workers voiced support for him to take on the mantle of party chief. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot earlier said no one was taking on Modi as Gandhi does and had been leading a strong campaign against him.

Thus it was clear that unlike the BJP, which has gone back to the drawing boards to strategise for the upcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Congress still remains clueless on what to do in these two states.

BJP has been in power for over 25 years in Gujarat and had recently lost all the four by-elections in Himachal Pradesh. However, Congress remains in a state of slumber even in these two states.

One must acknowledge that the party’s general secretary incharge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi, did put up a spirited fight in the last few days of the elections and in fact addressed more election rallies than even Yogi Adityanath.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

However, her campaign started quite late and the party won just two seats and for a vote share of merely three per cent which is the worst performance ever of the party in the state. What is needed is drawing up a long term strategy and a sustained campaign for which it needs to learn some lessons from the BJP.

The party president has asked state unit chiefs of the five states to resign – after the Punjab and Uttarakhand presidents sought to shift the blame on others – but why she spared general secretaries and other office bearers of these states, is a matter of thought. What the party needs is a complete overhaul if it wants to remain relevant in Indian politics.


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Vipin Pubby

Vipin Pubby

The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.

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