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Gujarat Assembly elections 2017 and the Indian National Congress
With every election the vote share of the Congress party has shrunk since its loss in the 2014 general elections. It is certainly as much worrying for the Congress as it is for the country. It is necessary that at least two national parties must compete with each other for proper functioning of a democracy.

At present apart from the BJP, Congress is the only other party which has presence in almost all of Indian states. But if the only national party opposing the ruling party is decimated the regional parties occupying the space cannot provide effective opposition. Most of the regional parties which are mainly state level parties have no clear national policies and will never unite on any issue. The communists are merely effective in only two states and the Aam Admi Party (AAP)has been desperately trying to expand its base outside Delhi.

All this makes the ruling party absolute which is not good for a democracy. The results of this can be seen in the the dictatorial decision of demonetisation. Thus, the Congress has to play a vital role of the main opposition and provide an alternative to the ruling party for now.

Unfortunately, there are very few leaders in Congress with mass appeal in most of the states. At the national level only Rahul Gandhi is at present looks to be a leader with appeal for masses. However, his flip flop sort of attitude has harmed the congress a lot.

The Congress leadership missed the biggest opportunity when it failed to take the advantage of the sufferings caused to large number of people due to demonetisation. It did not try to convert it into a mass movement against the government. This would have brought the party close to the people.

However, they wasted too much time in deciding whether to oppose the move or support it. If Congress has to survive, it must project regional leaders in various states and start working for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from now. They have to raise every possible issue that the BJP ruled states have failed to address. They must remind the public the promises made and not fulfilled. The main narrative of Congress' campaign as presented in Gujarat seems to be effective. Now the Congress is in a position to put before the masses the failure of the government in almost all the fields of development. The failed promises and the rising unemployment, They have to make sure that the BJP is not able to exploit the anti-Muslim card by raising communal issues.

If Congress has to set for revival it has to start making strategies state-wise. Unfortunately, in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress could not tie up with Mayawati in the 2017 UP Assembly elections which would have given it an edge in highlighting the problems being faced by people under Samajwadi Party's rule. The SP was already facing anger due to mismanagement in law and order, effective governance and corruption. This problem will not be faced by the Congress if it continues with its alliance for the Lok Sabha election. The congress party has to concentrate heavily in Uttar Pradesh, if it has to become a force at the Centre.

It is important for its leaders to focus on different issues in different states. There may be some common issues but there are regional issues which must be highlighted. BJP is raking up the issue of secularism vs communalism to its advantage by taking strong communal narrative. However, failure of of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of UP can be used as an advantage.

Sadly, the Muslims of UP have not learnt lessons from 2014 and 2017 elections. Muslim leaders put all the blame for their miseries on the Congress. They still are not able to gauge the danger of polarization. For this, the Congress leadership has to reach out to various intellectual and social organizations working for the welfare of the society. Let these people take the lead in mobilizing the opinion in their favour. In other words, the Congress leadership has to shun its arrogance and reach out to people in different districts through local leaders. The sooner it starts the better it is, or else the time will not wait.

(The author is former professor of electrical engineering Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh.)

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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