The longer the stalemate between alliance partners BJP and Shiv Sena, the bigger the win looks for one man – NCP President Sharad Pawar. In the face of the Congress and NCP’s biggest electoral battle against the might of brand Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Sharad Pawar has taught the Congress – that to fight PM Modi – they neither need the Gandhis or even a messiah; but just consistency in being a leader who knows the pulse of the people and stands up for their issues and woes with conviction.
CONGRESS WAS STUNNED TO SEE ITS OWN PERFORMANCE IN HARYANA AND MAHARASHTRA
The manner in which Congress was seen fighting the assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, eulogies were being written about the party with many even raising questions whether it will even remain existent. And according to party sources, as exit polls went spectacularly wrong, the grand old party was stunned to see its own performance. As the numbers started coming in, Congress won 44 seats in Maharashtra, two seats more than in 2014 and 16 more in Haryana. They were close to forming the government in Haryana while the two extra seats in Maharashtra may seem small, but it’s massive when you think that the party had expected their tally to go down to single digits. The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee had no leadership to speak of, although in Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan, the state Congress did make puppet public appearances for press meets even as its Mumbai leaderships campaigned against each other, damaging the party further. Not to forget that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi put no efforts to campaign, giving up the battle even before attempting to fight it.
IN HARYANA THE CONGRESS “ALMOST” ACHIEVED MAJORITY TO FORM GOVERNMENT
In Haryana, too, the party was riven by infighting and the party had absolutely no poll strategy. Although in former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress had a strong leader of the influential Jat community, Rahul Gandhi had appointed the ineffective Ashok Tanwar as president of the Haryana Congress. He was replaced just three weeks before the election by Kumari Selja. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Sonia Gandhi cancelled her campaign speeches while Rahul gave just two. Remarkably, in spite of Congress, Congress almost achieved the numbers to form the government in Haryana!
WHAT THE CONGRESS MUST LEARN FROM SHARAD PAWAR
NCP President Sharad Pawar has made it official – that Prime Minister Narendra Modi nationalism cannot always win in state polls. NCP President Sharad Pawar sensed that voters would look for alternatives when the direct beneficiary of the polls was not PM Modi. He campaigned raising issues of farmers specifically and hit the nail on its head. And looks like the Gods too decided to be kind to Sharad Pawar this time round – as in the final day of campaigning, Sharad Pawar’s speech soaking in rain without an umbrella in Satara, even washed away Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s lineage Udayanraje Bhosale. With 66 rallies and 54 seats, Sharad Pawar has proven how to counter the BJP. In Sharad Pawar – the Gandhis, the Congress and all those fighting the BJP have an example of how to fight the BJP and even challenge the might of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
EMOTIONAL POLITICS OVER “NATIONALISM” IS FADING
The BJP thought that Article 370 would do in Maharashtra what Pulwama did in Lok Sabha polls and they would win over 150 seats alone in Maharashtra but they were in for a rude shock. National issues cannot be used to brush aside people’s concerns in a state election. The BJP wove its campaign narrative around hyper-nationalism, the Pakistan bogey and other muscular issues. It did not cut much ice with the electorate in the two states voting for the next chief minister. Their top-of-the-mind worries were job losses, the economic slowdown, agrarian distress and other bread-and-butter issues. Voters can now see that there is intellectual deficit in the government. The nation is now facing a massive failure of governance. Sharad Pawar saw this and built his campaign around it – his speeches attacked BJP’s policy failures instead of attacking personalities. In simple words – the Congress does not have to go far to find a way of taking on BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up to 2024 – all they need to do is learn from Sharad Pawar on how to be responsible in their political actions to stem the roaring tide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP. With bureau inputs – #ZebaWarsia for NMTV News.