LS polls 2019: In Maharashtra, Congress has missed one opportunity after another
Mumbai, Mar 18: Maharashtra has always been a bastion of the Congress. However in the past few years, one has seen the base dwindling and due to the lack of a decisive strategy and lack of leaders, the Congress has been on the back-foot in the state.
The party is looking to better its performance in the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. There are 48 seats up for grabs and in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress could manage just 2.
The state has over the past five years witnessed a series of issues, which had the potential to put the BJP on the back-foot. The Maratha and farmer agitations were at the fore-front over the past five years and observers say that the Congress failed to take advantage of it. The biggest problem for the Congress is that it has not yet managed to convert that discontentment into votes.
The party also faced further embarrassment when Sujay, the son of opposition leader in the assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil joined the BJP. This incident has put a big question mark in the minds of the cadres, who are now questioning the ability of the leadership of the party in Maharashtra.
Many within the Congress do admit that they had failed to grab the opportunities that came calling. The state has been plagued by several issues, such as the ones that concern the farmers and Dalits. Both the farmers and Dalits have always been the core vote bank of the Congress. However over the past five years, this base has reduced greatly and the Congress missed out on every opportunity to take this vote bank back.
Observers point out that the Congress has been plagued by problems such as a lack of a strong leader. Adding to the misery of the party is factionalism. This has led to the lack of a proper strategy to make use of the narrative against the BJP in the state.
The lack of strategy has also led to the failure of the Congress to take on the BJP on issues such as corruption as well. Observers say that the Congress ought to have raised more aggressively the corruption charges that were made against minister Subash Deshmukh. Further the Congress also did not raise effectively the issue relating to the transfer of Cidco land to builders.
While the Congress did manage to stitch up an alliance with the NCP, it failed to convince Prakash Ambedkar to join its fold. Ambedkar floated the Vanchit Bajujan Aghadi and tied up with the AIMM. This combine poses a threat to the Congress as it could lose on out on the minority and Dalit votes. The BSP on the other hand which has some amount of clout over the Dalit votes in pockets of the state has also stayed away from the Congress.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP with its allies ended up with 42 seats. The Congress which has set a target of at least 25-30 seats at the moment seems to be struggling. The BJP and Shiv Sena decided to keep aside their differences and fight the elections together. The Congress and NCP have come together, but trust issues between the persist in the state.
The Congress does have a long way to go before it can start making a difference in Maharashtra. The Congress has been a mass based party, but will that be enough to counter the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. Time will tell.