The Bihar election season is upon us and while BJP, JDU, and RJD have already started with the campaigns, the grand old party of Congress is still in the strategizing mode. And it seems like the local Congress units have come up with a strategy and the strategy is to keep the scion Rahul Gandhi away from the Bihar political turf.
According to media reports, Bihar state Congress leaders told Rahul Gandhi during an online party meeting that it’s too late to prepare for the electoral battle in the absence of an organizational structure in the eastern state. Literal translation being—’We are respectfully arguing that you stay put in your cozy 10 Janpath bungalow and let us do some actual work, not the mere rhetoric.’
Rahul Gandhi held the meeting with state unit leaders through video conference on Thursday, during which former Union Minister Tariq Anwar was among the leaders who maintained that the Congress should have started preparing after the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2019.
The report further mentioned that party leaders repeatedly told the Congress prince that organizational set-up was weak in the state.
Off late, there has emerged a peculiar trend in Congress which shows the party workers and their little confidence in the abilities of the Gandhi clan.
The absence of Rahul Gandhi from major assembly elections has augured well for Congress. The examples are aplenty where the absence of Rahul Gandhi was not missed one bit. Punjab, Harayana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan—to name a few are some of the states where Congress has performed well when Mr. Gandhi has stayed away.
From being reduced to 15 seats in 2014, the party’s tally rose to 31 in the Haryana assembly election, last year, which baffled many political analysts. The biggest shot in the arm received by the Congress state unit was the total disregard of the Congress’ apex family. While Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were busy mollycoddling corrupt Congress leaders like P Chidambaram and DK Shivakumar in Tihar Jail, Rahul Gandhi was busy vacationing in Bangkok.
Rahul Gandhi had attended a whopping two rallies in the state and Gandhi family wasn’t even part of the strategy sessions. Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar had even quit the party accusing the leadership of not doing enough to promote ground workers and instead extended support to Dushyant Chautala led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).
In the end, the Haryana Congress was strengthened by the absence of Rahul Gandhi–Congress’ biggest liability and came out with significant more number of seats under its belt.
Whenever the Congress party high command led a campaign, it failed to leave an imprint on people, and did not connect substantially with voters, or even galvanize the Congress workers.
Even in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the election campaigns were led by the party’s local figures who do have experience, recognition and who stand for something more tangible than what the top leaders of the Congress do.
It was the now-fallen duo of Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot that resurrected Congress’ fortunes in the state of Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh, the old-rearguard Kamal Nath and the young turk Jyotiraditya Scindia milked the anti-incumbency issue to its full effect. Scindia, the young leader, despite giving his blood, sweat, and tears to the campaign was sidelined as soon as the party won.
The Punjab Assembly elections were the biggest proof that Congress didn’t need the charisma of its ‘coming-of-age’ leader. Captain Amrinder Singh orchestrated the entire election campaign on his own and kept Gandhi clan at an arm’s length. And the result was for everybody to see, Congress routed Akali Dal and BJP in the state.
The election campaign in Bihar is expected to be a humdinger as JDU has gained a lot of negative eyeballs due to its inefficient handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. The local state units of Congress have got a sniff that this is their golden chance to lock few seats that are miraculously coming its way.
But the state units also understand that it can only happen when Rahul Gandhi stays away from Patna. If Rahul Gandhi has gained even a little ‘political acumen’ in his now two-decades-long political career then he should step aside and pave way for the local state unit of Congress to make something resembling a lemonade from the lemons it has got, due to Nitish Kumar’s inadequacy.