Op-Ed: Congress and BJP Make Their Moves Ahead of May 23

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: As parties await May 23 with bated breath indications are that it is going to be a tight race between BJP and its rivals. The BJP may not like such a scenario to emerge but it has to prepare itself for that. Newspaper reports suggest that Congress is already reaching out to non-BJP parties including regional outfits, indicating that it is not averse to the idea of backing one of them for the office of the Prime Minister if they can together keep the BJP out of contention for that post.

For the Congress it is a significant climb down but a mature position to take for the country’s oldest party must realize that it is no more the top party and one which can command a majority on its own. It was brought down to the earth in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most politically significant state, by Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who formed an alliance without taking Congress into confidence.

Announcing their pact in UP the SP-BSP combine had left only two seats—Amethi and Rae Barelli—for the Congress as a goodwill gesture. Both the seats have long been considered Gandhi family pocket-borough but now the party seems shaky even there. Indications of Congress feeling insecure about Amethi came when Rahul Gandhi decided to contest also from Kerala’s Wayanad.

Now UP has been the bastion of Congress and the Nehru-Gandhis for decades. Retaining its hold on this Hindi heartland state is a matter of prestige for the family. It is symbolic. Hence the decline of Congress in UP is indicative of its decline India.

But the Gandhi dynasty would not let go of it easily. Having been used to power for generations it knows only how to rule and resents any attempt at its powers being curbed. Its readiness to compromise and accommodate the demands and aspirations of other non-BJP parties, especially the regional parties, is symptomatic of its desperation to control the levers of power either directly or indirectly by keeping BJP, its main rival, out of contention for the post of Prime Minister.

The BJP’s dislike of the Congress is equally strong. For the saffron party Congress remains the source of all evil in the country. This what explains Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s slogan of “ Congress mukta Bharat’ ( An India free of Congress).

The good thing about Mr. Modi is he is clear about his goals and his likes and dislikes. Once he takes a stand he does not budge from it. So in his case it is an all out war against the Congress and there is no room for any compromises here.

He is also aware that Congress is making its moves to stymie his ambitions of returning back to power. Hence, he has begun making his own moves to thwart Congress’ designs. He has begun courting regional satraps like Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo, Naveen Patnaik in the right earnest. The real game will begin after May 23.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)