The 84th Congress plenary session on March 17 in Delhi was a grand show and the first occasion for the party president Rahul Gandhi to frame the strategy to defeat the BJP in 2019 elections. Besides Rahul Gandhi, the former party president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram were the star speakers who gave their hints for the future course of action. The Congress decided to ally with like-minded parties. After the Narasimha Rao regime when the Barbri Masjid was demolished the Congress saw the downfall with Muslims, its main vote bank, distancing themselves from it. Still the party was not in favour of alliance strategy and in 1998 it rejected to go along with other parties. It favoured alliance strategy only in 2003 and with the formation of the United Progressive Alliance, it came to power in 2004. Now it is high time for the party to contest the 2019 elections with a comprehensive and closely knit alliance.
In UP, the Congress has been out of focus since a long time. Expectations were high with the SP-Congress alliance in the state assembly elections, but the BJP was benefited by the trifurcation of votes and swept the election. The BJP’s mass base was exposed in the recently held Lok Sabha by-elections in which it bit the dust in the seats held by the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy. Both the seats went to the Samajwadi Party which was supported by the Bahujan Samaj Party of Mayawati. Though it was a grand success for the BJP in the assembly elections, the Chief Minister was not elected by the legislative party. It was the choice of the Prime Minister in a new dictatorship way of the BJP. The Prime Minister simply laughed away the democratic norms and proved that he could dictate his terms. His popularity graph is definitely on the decline and the central government failed on all fronts. But to hit the Achilles’ heel, a concrete alliance is a must. Opposition leaders are keen to form an alliance, but they are groping in the dark, no direction is available for them. Meanwhile the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who once said he would not divert his attention until Golden Telangana was achieved, all of a sudden announced that he would form a third front. Luckily he got the support from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benarjee. Hurriedly he rushed to Kolkata and held talks with his counterpart. Negotiations were not as encouraging as KCR expected. Reports said that the Telangana CM was adamant to exclude the Congress from the front while Mamata Banerjee was flexible in her views.
As Congress is the bitter rival of the TRS, the Chief Minister cannot support the Congress as a constituent of the front. Mamata Banerjee is not only serious about the front, but she is also more experienced in national politics. KCR is not serious to oppose the Modi government. His soft corner towards PM Modi is evident from the fact that he did not declare to support the ‘no trust’ move tabled by the TDP and the YSRCP. Mamata made a mistake to announce to support his front in a hurry, but no other opposition party would take him seriously. The Congress session among many other issues said, “The very basis of our polity is threatened by the ideology of the BJP-RSS and their affiliates. The RSS-BJP is misrepresenting, distorting and misusing religion to exploit the sentiments of people and capture power.” The BJP has been exploiting the religion for political gains since it got the Ram Mandir issue in 1986. Many representations were made to the Election Commission, but the commission authorities now turned serious about this issue. The Supreme Court also issued direction that the party misusing religion should be held guilty and action taken against it. From foreign policy to the handling of the economy and agonies of people under the Modi government were discussed by the session. It is the acid test for the Congress to frame a solid alliance to fight the BJP. Region and even state-wise political combinations can be worked out to see that non-BJP votes are not split.