News Analysis | Congress gains from BJP’s unkept promises

T.S. Singh Deo. File photo: PTI

T.S. Singh Deo. File photo: PTI  

As the Congress appointed Chhattisgarh minister T.S. Singhdeo on Tuesday as the party’s central observer to supervise the meeting of newly elected lawmakers in Jharkhand to elect the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), the party described the victory of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance as a ‘rejection of the anti-people policies of the BJP’.

Since December 2018, the BJP has lost governments in five States and the Congress has managed to bag three of them after winning in the crucial Hindi belt States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

More importantly, it has managed to stitch up crucial alliances, even an unlikely one in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena.

Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal interpreted the Jharkhand Assembly election results as “a substantive and clear mandate against the divisive and disruptive political actions of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and the BJP”.

“Instead of talking about the development in respective States or issues of common people, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were trying to fool the people by their narrow-minded divisive political actions and sectarian agenda,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, too, pointed out that the BJP lost despite aggressive campaigning by Mr. Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

“The BJP's down slide in State elections started with the Gujarat polls. It will face defeat in the Bihar and Delhi Assembly polls as well,” Mr. Chavan said in a statement.

So, is the Congress faring better in States because of strong leaders like Amarinder Singh in Punjab or Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan or Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana? And did the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign that was spearheaded by former party chief Rahul Gandhi reflected the Congress’ leadership crisis at the top?

“It can’t be stated as an established fact that strong leadership for the Congress [is crucial] to do better in these elections. I still maintain anti-incumbency and non-delivery cycle of State governments were major factors. States where the Congress have won, say Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh or even in Rajasthan, it is the issues that won the elections. The leadership issues are not fully settled,”said election strategist Naresh Arora, who helped the Congress party in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Haryana Assembly elections.

“Non-delivery of the BJP is catching up nationally as well. Just that the Opposition could not bring it to the forefront and because of the Pulwama-Balakot strikes, the mood of the voters changed between December 2018 and April 2019,” Mr. Arora added.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 9:57:15 PM |

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