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Chandigarh: It is high time that Congress central leadership must realize that they are no more a pan India political entity. Party neither has a cadre nor finances to mobilize voters in its favour for 2019.
No doubt, Congress is the biggest party in the country after BJP but the party has reached a state where it will take decades to revive the fortunes in provinces like Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Absence of ideological motivation and dearth of money further augments the plight.
Its contribution in building modern India and nurturing democracy has kept the brand Congress alive with some recall value among the most marginalized sections but lack of lubricated party structure dwarfed its efforts to translate this support into votes in recent times. This leaves the party with limited futuristic options.
The signal is clear that the Congress must strengthen its cadre and open channels of communication with the regional satraps like Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik and Lalu Yadav who stood their ground amidst the saffron tsunami.
The Congress needs to grab the opportunity to bring these state and community oriented parties on a common platform playing a second fiddle to them and glue everybody together on a socialist and anti-communal agenda.
Three years down the line, anger against the central government led by the right wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s protégé BJP is palpable in the deprived segments of the society that include Muslims, Dalits, Backward Castes and the Tribal. Recent election results of Uttar Pradesh, North Eastern states and Goa may not reflect the sentiment as BJP’s adversaries were fragmented and their organizational structure were in disarray.
The bubble of Modi wave burst in 2015 when Congress cadre assisted AAP to capture the Delhi citadel and later paved way for anti-BJP outfits in Bihar to cobble a Grand Alliance to prove that saffron party could be decisively defeated if all its rivals get their act together.
Congress needs to understand that it lost miserably to the BJP in straight fights in last four years. It started with Rajasthan in 2013 when Congress social support base was plundered by the BJP who eventually won 78 percent seats in Rajasthan provincial Assembly. Leadership crisis cost the party Madhya Pradesh while the infighting brought it on knees in Chhattisgarh. On the other hand, BJP not only kept its house in order but also collaborated with novice National Peoples’ Party formed by P A Sangma to micromanage the tribal belts of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. With this move party built upon its traditional vote base and the momentum it got from these states sailed them not only through the General Election but also yielded results in subsequent assemblies elections in states like Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra.
In all these states Congress chose to antagonize tested and trusted partners like Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand portraying itself to be haughty and hubristic who would opt to fall back on decaying party structure than having settled and functional alliance. Meanwhile the BJP sensed the ground reality and conceded enough space for regional bijous like Republican Party of India (Athawale) and All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU) and kept them in jovial mood which eventually helped building a wave in their favour.
Right now, Congress is left with just 44 representatives in Lok Sabha and a meager presence in state assemblies with nobody to blame than its strategists and core leadership.
Those states where BJP is getting staunch contest, the challenge is coming from the regional parties.
Thus Congress must choose around 250 Lok Sabha seats that it may contest in 2019 making best use of the resources whatever left with and improve its strike rate. Regional allies fighting on remaining 283 seats will tie down BJP’s thrust and Congress will get an opportunity to aim for 150 winnable seats and bereave BJP off the majority.
Therefore, working on federal agenda with impetus on giving more powers to states on their natural resources and finances should be the first step and state parties must take a lead in shaping its blue-print.
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