Congress plenary: Rahul Gandhi’s Pandava-Kaurava comment may help mobilise the fence sitters, feel experts
Sounding the bugle for 2019, Rahul gave a clarion call to the Congress workers to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime by fighting like a “disciplined force”.india Updated: Mar 20, 2018 12:42 IST
The two-day 84th plenary session of the Congress that concluded on Sunday saw the grand old party and its chief Rahul Gandhi outlining their strategy to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the next Lok Sabha elections.
Sounding the bugle for 2019, Rahul gave a clarion call to the Congress workers to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime by fighting like a “disciplined force”.
The message for the voters, especially the young, was that the “drunk on power and corrupt” BJP has “failed” in providing jobs and, in fact “destroyed” all the avenues of creating employment with its “ill-conceived policies”.
By maintaining its focus on the farmers and the young in the speeches delivered and the resolutions passed on both days of the session, the Congress has desperately tried to win back the support of the two sections.
The young voters increasingly became disillusioned with the Congress and gravitated towards the BJP in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and the disenchantment hasn’t thawed since but has formulated in support for Modi in regions the BJP did not have a significant following before. But the Congress hopes to tap the disenchantment over Modi’s “failure” to provide the promised two crore jobs in a year. The grand old party is also of the view that the deepening agrarian crisis will push the farmers to its side in 2019.
By likening the BJP to Kauravas and the Congress to Pandavas, Rahul sought to set the agenda for 2019. It is now for the BJP to respond.
Political analysts suggest that Rahul’s reference to Mahabharata could help Congress mobilise fence sitters. “The voters angry with the Congress might like such an analogy. Rahul Gandhi wanted to convey that the 2019 election between the BJP and Congress is going to be like the fight between Kauravas and Pandavas who were small in number but on the right side,” said Sanjay Kumar of the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
“This might help in mobilising the fence sitters who have not yet made up their mind about which party to vote for in next elections,” he said.
If Rahul’s personal attacks against the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah and the ongoing war of words and personal attacks between the leaders of the two parties are any indication, the country is headed for the one of the fiercest and bitter electoral battles in 2019.
While Rahul positioned himself as the Prime Minister’s primary challenger, the political resolution was silent on the issue of the leadership of the coalition of the like-minded parties.
The grand old party resolved to adopt a “pragmatic approach” in forging alliances and evolving a common workable programme to defeat the BJP-RSS combine.
In her speech, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi referred to the resolution passed at the Shimla declaration in 2003 that had rejected the position taken by the party in the 1998 Pachmarhi declaration that laid special emphasis on following the ‘ekala chalo (go it alone)’ line.
However, the Shimla resolution had affirmed that the Congress will lead any coalition at the national level.
Sonia Gandhi was instrumental in stitching a multi-party coalition, headed by the Congress, after a shock defeat of the BJP-led NDA government in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The UPA went on to rule the co untry for next 10 years. By incorporating the subject in its political resolution and without insisting on leading any such grand alliance, the Congress acknowledged the significance of coalition politics at a time when it has been relegated to political margins in majority of states.
Rahul also promised to build a new Congress by filling it with “talented youngsters” and breaking the existing wall between senior leaders and workers. At the same time, he reassured the seniors that they will play a key role in his restructuring process.
The remarks were received with both optimism and caution by Congress leaders. “Rahulji’s statement will definitely galvanise the workers who were till now feeling ignored in the party organisation. This will also encourage more youth to join our party when over half of India’s population is below 35 years of age,” said Jammu and Kashmir Congress leader Maroof Wani.