Rahul Gandhi has taken the lead in formulating the ideology platform as a counter to Modi. All leaders of the Congress speak in one voice on this issue. It is the core issue for Mamata Banerjee as well. Sharad Pawar may not be shrill on this issue, but he has often spoken against the polarising agenda of the BJP.
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is right. Only the Congress party can challenge and defeat the BJP in national elections because it represents an ideology: an inclusive India where all faiths can co-exist in peace and harmony. It is a fight between ideologies, Rahul Gandhi said at the just concluded three-day brainstorming session of his party in Udaipur. Since regional parties do not have an ideology they cannot fight and defeat the BJP, he added forthrightly.
Taken to its logical conclusion, Rahul’s formulation would mean that the BJP/RSS agenda of Hindu polarisation needs to be countered effectively in order to defeat the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024. That the BJP came to power with 37 per cent of votes in 2019 speaks of its vulnerability. If all Opposition forces unite truly, BJP can be defeated. But will it happen? This is the question.
The answer lies with an ordinary citizen whose vote counts. Is he affected by the polarizing agenda of the BJP/RSS? Leave aside the hardcore supporters who at best count for much less than 50 per cent of votes, majority may vote against the BJP for the simple reason that they want a peaceful India. This is the constituency Rahul Gandhi can woo as leader of his party. This may not be the cut and dried ideology of all the non-BJP regional parties, but it can certainly become a rallying point in the run up to 2024 parliamentary elections. All that they need to sort out is the contentious issue of leadership.
So who all could be in the leadership race if, theoretically, they decide to unitedly challenge Modi? Sharad Pawar (NCP), Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Akhilesh Yadav (SP) etc , apart from ,maybe , Rahul Gandhi of the Congress? If the ego of leaders in reference is set aside, the answer may be simple. His advancing age and ill health may go against Sharad Pawar; Mamata’s popularity is confined to Bengal. Akhilesh Yadav remains a leader of the Yadavs and Muslims in UP. In spite of criticisms from within his own party, it is Rahul Gandhi who emerges as the better bet.
Rahul Gandhi has taken the lead in formulating the ideology platform as a counter to Modi. All leaders of the Congress speak in one voice on this issue. It is the core issue for Mamata Banerjee as well. Sharad Pawar may not be shrill on this issue, but he has often spoken against the polarising agenda of the BJP. Other regional satraps too blame the BJP for its exclusive ideology which divides people.
In its pan-India ‘padyatra ‘from October 2, as declared by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress is likely to spread BJP’s divisive politics among people in the country. It is an opportunity for regional parties to join hands if they seriously want to give a challenge to the BJP at the Centre. Now is the time to talk and thrash out differences among Opposition ranks. Anti-porarisation plank is common to all of them. Maybe the leadership issue can be settled later.
Implementation of other decisions taken at the ‘Chintan Shivir’ of the Congress can go side by side with the preparation for the ‘padyatra’ over polarization. The Congress needs to focus its attention on this.
(Devsagar Singh is a senior journalist.)