Stitching up alliances, a challenge for Congress

Virendra Pandit Poornima Joshi Ahmedabad/New Delhi | Updated on March 11, 2019

Congress President Rahul Gandhi

Congress to hold its crucial CWC meet on Lok Sabha polls in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Unlike the ruling BJP, which utilised its post-air strikes and Pulwama attack consolidation to silence squabbling allies such as the Shiv Sena and stitched up crucial electoral alliances in Tamil Nadu and Punjab, the Congress is flailing on the alliance front and seeking a counter to the BJP’s muscular nationalism as it prepares for the meeting of its highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

The selection of Gujarat capital as a venue for the meet has been aimed at portraying a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah on their home turf. But the principal opposition party does not seem battle ready, especially in terms of finalising alliances in crucial States such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and in Delhi, where a vote split between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress will only help the BJP.

Turmoil within

Even in Gujarat, the Grand Old Party is facing turmoil within. Since the December 2017 Assembly elections in the State, the party has lost three MLAs to the BJP and one has been suspended after a court convicted him in a mining case, reducing the Congress strength from 77 to 73 in a 182-member Vidhan Sabha. Two of these defectors have been made Ministers in the BJP government.

The momentum that the Congress had gained after its victories in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had coincided with the larger political discourse shifting to slowing down economy and rural distress, issues that posed a challenge to the BJP. But post surgical strikes in Pakistan, muscular nationalism and the PM Modi’s combative stance has changed this narrative and the Congress is struggling to counter it. The CWC is expected to rework its policy on national security in view of the current political situation, and changed narrative in the Pulwama aftermath

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee Spokesman Manish Doshi told BusinessLine on Monday, that party leaders, on Tuesday, will reach the Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati River to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation at 9.00 am. It will be followed by the CWC meeting at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial at 10.00 am. A public meeting will also be held on the outskirts of Ahmedabad at 1300 hours, he said.

All 51 members of CWC will attend the Ahmedabad meeting, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Published on March 11, 2019

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