Has the Congress lost Gujarat already?
WITH ASSEMBLY polls round the corner, the Congress has upped its ante in Gujarat. Congress President Sonia Gandhi recently addressed a farmer-intensive rally in Rajkot, talking about the benefits given by the Congress-led UPA government to the state.
However, the question remains: In a state dominated by one politician for over a decade, does the Congress have a set gameplan? Party leaders in Gujarat make the customary claims of being confident of a strong show. Election campaigning and visit by national leaders are being planned and the selection of candidates is also in full swing.
Unfortunately for the Congress, the rules for public discourse are being set by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Congress leaders seem to be merely responding to his allegations. Be it the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign travels or her medical expenses, Modi has slammed the Congress on every front. He has even challenged the PM to come to Gujarat. The pattern in all this: Modi leads and others follow him.
In her maiden rally, Sonia Gandhi skirted all controversial subjects and concentrated on the problems faced by farmers and fishermen. But these find no resonance either in the Gujarat Congress or among the people. The only hope for the Congress is that Modi might not do too well in the rural areas. But banking blindly on the BJP not faring well is, at best, wishful thinking, and is not going to help matters for the Congress.
Congress cadres in Gujarat are a fast-disappearing race, particularly at the grassroots level. It is almost as if the party has resigned to the fact that there is no hope of a victory. It might not even be in a position to match the campaign unleashed by Modi. The party has not yet decided to project a leader in Gujarat, though it officially says that a chief ministerial candidate is always decided after the polls.
For any political party to be in the reckoning, it needs to convince voters of its leader who can take on the opposition. In Gujarat, if the Congress wants to do that, it will have to refuel cadres at the grassroots level. Negotiations with some smaller parties are still going on. But we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. If the Congress needs your support after the elections, will you extend it? This is hypothetical at the moment. We will have to assess how things unfold in the days to come.
Hand pass The issues raised by Sonia are not resonating with the people