Congress faces dissensions in several states ahead of polls
15 Mar 2019
The Congress is facing dissensions in several states ahead of Lok Sabha elections and is yet to firm up alliances in crucial states like Bihar even as the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is less than a month away.
The dissensions are coming in the way of party’s efforts to build a narrative against the BJP-led govenrment.
Tom Vadakkan, a well-known party leader, who has been a loyalist of Nehru-Gandhi family and handled the party’s media department when Sonia Gandhi was the party chief, joined the BJP on Thursday.
In Maharashtra, Sujay Vikhe-Patil, son of leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, has also joined the BJP.
Madan Bhosale, a former MLA and son of former Pradesh Congress Committee chief Prataprao Bhosale, joined the saffron party some days ago.
In Gujarat, three Congress MLAs — Vallabh Dharaviya, Purshottam Sabariya, Jawahar Chavda — joined the BJP ahead of crucial meeting of Congress Working Committee in Ahmedabad earlier this week. In Karnataka, where Congress has been facing internal troubles, one of its MLAs Umesh Jadhav has joined the BJP.
The Congress has not been able to firm up a ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) in Bihar amid reports of differences with Rashtriya Janata Dal over seat-sharing. Voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is due on April 11.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s sudden decision not to contest elections is also being interpreted in terms of the prospects of the NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra.
Congress has had talks with the NCP on sharing seats, but the alliance has not been able to accommodate some other significant players. Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Swabhimani Paksha of Raju Shetty are likely to contest separately causing a division in opposition votes.
The Congress appears to be in a dilemma over AAP’s keenness for a tie-up in Delhi to take on the BJP. The party has been ruling out a tie-up but its leaders are still seeking feedback from party workers if they should go for seat sharing.
The party also faces a tough task in Uttar Pradesh where it is out of the opposition alliance of Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Congress is in talks with National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, but there has not been any formal announcement of the alliance.
In a unique initiative to connect with voters for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will travel from Prayagraj to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi from March 18 to 20.
According to Congress leaders, Priyanka will take a boat ride from Prayagraj on March 18 to reach Varanasi on March 20. In fact, the party’s state unit has approached the election commission to seek a permission for Priyanka’s boat ride.
The party assured the poll panel that it will comply with the model code of conduct.
Priyanka will address people at several places during her three-day journey, they said on Thursday.
Since her appointment as the Congress General Secretary and in-charge for Uttar Pradesh (East) on Jan.23, the party workers have been pressing her to contest from Varanasi. However, the Congress which released its two lists for 27 of 80 seats, has not announced her as a candidate for the 2019 elections yet. According to party leaders, the Congress, through the boat ride, wants to highlight Modi’s failure in cleaning the river Ganga in the last five years, and the pain of people residing along the river bank.
Priyanka is seen as a turn-around leader for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, where the party has been out of power for the last 29 years.
Through the boat ride campaign, the party wants to revive itself in eastern Uttar Pradesh which earlier remained its stronghold.
In 2014 elections, the Congress had won only two seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli, represented by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, respectively, while the BJP had won 71 seats.
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani termed allegations levelled against her by the Congress of violating the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Fund rules as a self-goal and accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of committing a financial fraud in his constituency Amethi.