Opinion: What is not working for Congress in national elections?

In AP, Telangana, Orissa, and Bengal, Congress has weakened and given way to the regional parties who are now well entrenched. Only in Telangana, it has a chance of revival if people feel BJP can’t give the fight against BRS in assembly elections

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  7 Jun 2023 4:22 AM GMT
Opinion: What is not working for Congress in national elections?

Telangana: Congress vote share in major states in north India has dropped in the last two national elections. It is not a major player in UP, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa anymore. It has become faceless and irrelevant in Andhra Pradesh after the bifurcation of the state in 2014. It can’t come to power on its strength in UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh shortly.

Congress needs to introspect about losing popular support and do some course corrections to its policies to get back popular support in national elections.

The traditional vote bank of Dalits and Minorities has shifted their allegiance to BSP in UP and RJD in Bihar. It is going to be a Herculean task for Congress to win back their votes in UP and Bihar.

Upper caste Hindus and educated middle class of intermediate castes have deserted Congress and moved to BJP and other parties.

In AP, Telangana, Orissa, and Bengal, Congress has weakened and given way to the regional parties who are now well entrenched. Only in Telangana, it has a chance of revival if people feel BJP can’t give the fight against BRS in assembly elections.

Congress revival in UP and other north Indian states depends on its policies and programs to attract the Hindu middle class. But at present it looks bleak given the trends and policies being pursued by Congress.

Congress has greater support in poorer sections of the electorate compared to BJP. BJP has gained greater acceptance and support from the educated middle class and rich across the country. As the middle class is growing at a rapid pace, Congress must attract voters in the educated middle class towards it to win national elections.

Congress has reinforced a perception in the educated Hindu middle class that the Congress party encourages Muslim communalism but opposes vigorously majority communalism to gain the votes of Muslims in elections.

Congress is forthright in attacking Hindutva forces but hesitant to attack Muslim communal groups in the country.

The support base of the BJP is a negative vote against Congress for not being equidistant towards communal elements of all denominations.

The support base of the BJP is not a positive vote but only a negative vote against Congress for an ambivalent stand of Congress towards Muslim communalism.

The advisers of Rahul Gandhi have to take the blame for making repeated self-goals. Rahul Gandhi's utterances in the UK and US projecting a very negative image of the country are only helping BJP in consolidating the Hindu middle class. Congress is not going to get any extra votes of Muslims and Dalits by attacking Modi outside the country but it will lose further vote share of educated Hindu middle classes in the country.

Advisers of Rahul Gandhi should restrain him from making comments which are going to further alienate educated Hindu middle classes from Congress. The Hindu middle class does not want criticism of the Centre's policies outside the country as it hurts the interests of the nation in the international arena. Criticism of the policies of the government inside India is welcome and is the duty of the opposition to highlight the wrongs of the government. But highlighting the wrongs of the government on foreign soil will hurt the interests of the country and thereby do a disservice to the nation. Already, Pakistan and China axis is active in harming the interests of the nation globally and Rahul Gandhi's utterances will only strengthen forces that are inimical to the growth of India.

The narrative that minorities and democracy are under threat in India is a little exaggerated. Considering the condition of minorities in India in comparison to minorities in Pakistan, China, or that matter in any other country. Speaking against India on sensitive subjects on foreign soil should be avoided and better to be restrained while criticizing Modi government policies. Educated Hindu middle classes are now very sensitive to anybody trying to tarnish the image of the country outside.

The Hindu middle class feels any damage to the reputation of the country is an attack on their reputation. There is a perception in the Hindu middle classes that Muslims are being unduly favored and appeased by Congress. They feel Muslims vote en block to a party that ever favors them at the cost of Hindus. They feel that Muslims wherever they are in the majority do not allow others to live in peace. They feel the backwardness of Muslims is self-inflicted due to their attitude and not due to any state policy or discrimination. Treating Muslims on par with marginalized sections of Hindus for reservations is also not looked favorably by the educated Hindu middle class.

One of the reasons for the dismal performance of Congress in the 2014 elections was the statement of the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh that Muslims of the country must have the first claim over the resources and benefits from government schemes. This stand appears to have reinforced a perception in the Hindu middle class that Congress is a Muslim appeasement party. This perception resulted in the Hindu middle-class voting in favor of the BJP in the last two National elections to Lok Sabha.

Although BJP has fared very badly in managing the economy and other parameters of governance Congress is not able to get the support of the educated Hindu middle class due to its ambivalent stand on communalism. It is selective and aggressive against Hindu communalism but soft towards minority communalism.

Congress has better leaders in terms of administrative skills, vision, and leadership skills. But on communalism, it has to take an equidistant attitude towards all types of Communalism if it wants to win over the Hindu Middle class.

Congress should understand that minority communalism is as bad as Hindu communalism. Muslim communalism is harming Congress more than Hindu communalism. If it comes out strongly against both communalisms on equal footing

It can get back the votes of the educated Hindu middle class and can beat BJP hands down in elections where Congress is the principal opposition party.

BJP has failed in managing the economy and failed to deliver any of the promises made to the people. But still, people are with BJP because Congress is pursuing the same narrative that Hindu communalism is more dangerous than Muslim communalism.

The educated Hindu middle class feels that Hindu communalism is a reaction to Muslim communalism which is being promoted by Congress and other like-minded parties.

If Congress takes an equidistant stand against both Muslim and Hindu Communalism it has chances of revival and increasing the vote share of the Educated Hindu Middle class.

Rahul Gandhi should speak less about majority communalism and speak more about how BJP mismanaged the economy. Congress should offer a better model for Country growth without speaking too much on Communal, Dalit, and Adivashi politics.

The Hindu Middle class feels that Nation growth is more important and everybody should be given equal opportunities for their growth based on their skills and not based on caste or religion.

Rahul Gandhi while trying to make up his lost time in picking knowledge and oratory skills during UPA time is trying to show off his oratory skills on things that are going to damage the support base of Congress.

Rahul Gandhi's utterances on Savarkar repeatedly during Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra were unnecessary and going to cost votes in Maharashtra and also in North Indian states. By speaking against Savarkar, Congress is not going to get any extra votes from Muslims or Dalits in the country. It is going to lose many votes of Middle-class Hindus who otherwise would have voted for Congress.

By insulting Savarkar repeatedly Rahul Gandhi is making self-goals for Congress and adding strength to BJP. Rahul is picking up the wrong subjects to show off his newly acquired knowledge from advisers but it is going to give negative results for Congress in elections. Congress should stick to subjects that are going to help Congress in getting the Hindu middle class which is now alienated from Congress.

Congress will gain the votes of the Hindu middle class if it sticks to speaking against Modi on mismanaging the economy and avoid talking on sectarian issues of Muslims, Dalits, and Adhivasis. Minorities, Dalits, and Scheduled Tribes in any case will vote more for Congress than BJP in a two-way contest. But to get the Hindu middle classes to vote, it should avoid the narrative of sectarian politics.

If Congress continues with the sectarian narrative, BJP will be at an advantage to exploit it to its advantage as it did in the last two elections. Let us hope better sense prevails in the Congress leadership and also advisers of Rahul Gandhi to take an equidistant attitude towards all types of sectarianism and avoid making self-goals.


T Venudhar Reddy ----Indian Forest Service officer of 1987 batch of Assam & Meghalaya joint cadre. Retired as PCCF & Chief Wild Life warden Assam in 2020. Post Graduate in Chemistry from Osmania University and Bachelors Degree in Law from Osmania University. Worked as Chief Vigilance officer MIDHANI Hyderabad and Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Mumbai from 2013 to 2018.

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