The BJP and its strategists have mastered the art of winning elections through micro-planning.
The decision of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to call a meeting of the INDIA bloc on Wednesday close on the heels of the party’s shock reversal in the just concluded Assembly elections should help the party get back to the action and add some momentum to the opposition alliance which has already started making some disconcerting voices.
The Congress as a party has faced comprehensive defeats at the hustings several times before, too, but what must be unsettling is the leadership’s spectacular inability to learn from the lessons, immediate or remote, this time. The resounding win in Karnataka must have been enough to convince the leadership that the voters will sway to its side if and when it started talking on issues that impacted their lives and possible solutions. The BJP played the Hindutva card in Karnataka as it had done never before in an election but the Congress prevailed over the saffron push by advancing an economic agenda.
The Congress attempt in the Hindi heartland was not to replicate its own Karnataka model except the offerings of the freebies in which it was hardly a match to the BJP. Instead, it borrowed from the BJP strategy and played the Hindutva card it had done never before, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and lost its case when the people opted for the original Hindutva player who offered a pack of freebies as well. In Telangana, the party almost toed the Karnataka line, upgrading the five–item sop box to a six-item one, and it paid off.
The Congress must at least now realise that it never wins an election by attempting to outdo BJP in any of its core strengths, especially Hindutva. The grand old party’s core, which has sustained the party throughout its history, on the other hand is an inclusive agenda which made peoples of all hues feel at home.
It’s time the Congress also realised that the formation of the INDIA alliance was to take on the Narendra Modi-led BJP alliance head on by eliminating the possibility of multi-cornered contests in the Lok Sabha election. That a section of the Congress leadership is yet to come to grips with the very idea and is reluctant to accommodate the alliance partners in the Assembly election. That the Samajwadi Party and the Left parties with their voteshare, though small, would have helped the Congress improve the tally is less important than the fact that the alliance’s first major electoral outing after its formation would have offered it a platform to tell people that they have a viable, cohesive and united alternative should they look for one in preference to the NDA. The recalcitrant Congress wrecked that opportunity.
The BJP and its strategists have mastered the art of winning elections through micro-planning. The party may have already got its strategy for all the 543 constituencies ready by now, and taking on such a formidable enemy with a reasonable confidence of ousting it from power would call for an equal, if not better plan. The first step is to ensure that the NDA faces a single candidate in all the constituencies where the ruling alliance has a chance to win or emerge the first runner up. It is time the Congress leadership showed some political sagacity and craftsmanship. Mr Kharge’s endeavour must focus on that.