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OPINION | Rahul Gandhi Has Cracked the Code to Defeating PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi has not only realised Modi government's weaknesses but has also launched an aggressive campaign against it. This comes at a time when regional parties, inside and outside the NDA, have sensed that a BJP's victory in 2019 could wipe out their domain.

Venkatesh Kesari |

Updated:March 19, 2018, 2:48 PM IST
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OPINION | Rahul Gandhi Has Cracked the Code to Defeating PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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New Delhi: With just a year left for the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP cannot afford to take the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) 84th plenary session lightly.

This is because the issues raised, especially of growing unrest among youth and farmers due to lack of jobs and unsustainable farming, have the potential to damage the Narendra Modi government in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which are expected to be fought on issues rather than over personalities.

Fact is, Rahul Gandhi has not only realised Modi government's weaknesses but has also launched an aggressive campaign against it. This comes at a time when regional parties, inside and outside the NDA, have sensed that a BJP's victory in 2019 could wipe out their domain.

This has brought the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party closer in Uttar Pradesh and compelled the TDP to quit the NDA. Furthermore, the Shiv Sena will lose its credibility if it re-aligns with the BJP after announcing to go solo in 2019 and the language of its allies like the Lok Janashakti Party, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party have begun changing suddenly.

While the Dravidian parties have always been unpredictable, the BJD has been distancing itself from the party ruling the central government and the other day, MNS's Raj Thackeray appealed to the people to make a "Modi Mukt" Bharat.

The sum and substance are that Modi and Amit Shah will have to face strong opposition in UP, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra, Telangana and the national capital Delhi.

The Congress party, under Rahul Gandhi, is willing to work with anti-BJP parties and is ready to make compromises for it. This spirit was reflected in the political resolution adopted by the AICC plenary. This could puncture the BJP's game plan to make the LS polls a Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle.

It will be interesting to see whether the Congress formally projects Rahul as its Prime Ministerial candidate or keeps it ambiguous to distract the BJP. The Congress knows well that its chief cannot function 24x7 like Modi and Shah, nor can he be easily accessible to party workers and others like them. Rahul, though, has admitted that every defeat teaches and strengthens his “fighting spirit”.

He knows that the Congress can give a tough fight to the BJP in Maharashtra, where they have the support of Sharad Pawar-led NCP. In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, too, the battle is on.

The two-day AICC plenary showcased the change in strategy, approach of Rahul. Now, one has to wait and see how it translates into functioning at the ground level. "He has been talking about it (changes) for the last three-and-a-half years, now the person (party president) has changed but the old system continues," observed some delegates after his concluding remarks at the session.

Rahul and his Congress Party know well that this is not the time for experiments or reforming the organisation because assembly elections in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are scheduled this year, followed by the Lok Sabha polls next year.

They do have a roadmap to aggressively follow — untapped talent, youth brimming with energy and carrying clean slates. Add to that the unrest in unorganised sector which can be used to counter Modi-Shah's polarisation tactics.

Sensing growing disillusionment among the younger generation, Rahul Gandhi plans to use youth power in a big way to turn the tables against Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Youth can never be a vote bank of any party. They had backed Modi in 2014 hoping that he would address their issues, especially unemployment. However, this did not happen. Furthermore, demonetisation and the ‘hurried’ implementation of GST affected the BJP's core constituency, leading to the party’s political isolation.

Realising unrest among youth as reflected in the results of Gujarat assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi has formally opened up the Congress’ doors for them irrespective of castes, class and religion. He virtually announced a war between “Youth power” and “Sangh power”.

Rahul, who spoke for over 50 minutes, spelt out his strategy saying that the BJP, under Modi, could be defeated on economic issues and with the help of youth.

Rahul does not want to ‘reform’ the Congress, he wants to make it fighting fit with the help of the untapped potential. His strategy would be judged in the proposed AICC reshuffle, nominations to the CWC, Central Election Committee, PCC presidents and the upcoming Karnataka assembly polls.

The Congress is gearing up for a decisive battle against the BJP. On one hand, it wants to ally with “like-minded parties” and on the other, it plans to attract the sections that do not find a place in the BJP nor have they been attracted by Modi’s aggressive nationalism.

Rahul himself said that the Gujarat results have made the Congress optimistic that it can counter Modi, Amit Shah, BJP and the RSS over economic issues.

If the SP-BSP coming together in Uttar Pradesh has alarmed the BJP, new caste combinations in the North have also made the saffron party fidgety. In the South and West, economic issues could work against it.

“The BJP is the voice of an organisation, while the Congress is the voice of the nation,” Rahul said, suggesting that the saffron party is deriving strength, support from the RSS and that it could be checked by the youth who see no future for themselves under the Modi regime.

In his speech, Rahul also spoke about his priorities for youth, farmers and oppressed classes while noting changes in the Prime Minister. “He (Modi) looks tense, he’s not wearing his suits,” Rahul observed.

The Congress party has also realised that Modi’s promise to make India a superpower is self-contradictory as it could not even provide jobs to youth or relief to farmers.

Rahul Gandhi has put his best foot forward. How he follows up with his resolutions at the AICC plenary would decide which way the Grand Old Party would go.

(The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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