Date :21-May-2023

THE victory in Karnataka has certainly given the Congress party an authentic primacy in Opposition camp. Armed with that win, it will approach the challenge of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 with heightened confidence in its ability to dare the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and also ask other Opposition parties to concede leadership to Mr. Rahul Gandhi as the Opposition face against Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. However, before the 2024 challenge, there will be the challenge of retaining its power in two States of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and make a serious attempt to snatch back power in Madhya Pradesh. If it is able to retain those two States with it, then the Congress party will become an entirely different organisation -- far from its faltering, stumbling former self in the past nine years. But one thing is sure -- the Congress party stands on the threshold of a probable political rejuvenation.
Another actual and internal challenge the Congress party will have to face is the conduct of its leader Mr. Rahul Gandhi within the organisation. So far, he has been known to be a moody person with little respect for his seniors or peers. If he is to stand tall and strong against Mr. Narendra Modi, then he will have to reinvent himself and become truly an organisation man. For, the 2024 challenge is going to be far tougher than anyone will ever think. For Mr. Narendra Modi, it will be a fight of lifetime. And for Mr. Rahul Gandhi, it will be a fight for survival. In such a no-holds-barred fight, an individual with superior personal qualities is far more likely to succeed than anybody else. Will Congress be able to convince its leader to change his ways so that he becomes nationally acceptable in a true sense?
In Karnataka, the fact of the matter was that it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that lost. Congress did win the elections with a thumping number, all right. Yet, it was more of an anti-incumbency vote rather than a positive vote for the Congress party. The Congress leadership cannot overlook this reality of the Karnataka situation. In other words, it will have to still make a deep, no-nonsense analysis of its plus and minus points and avoid uncalled for rhetoric and get down to brass tacks to tackle issue ahead.
One of the most critical issues is to build a nationwide organisation in a very short time so as to counter the BJP both-by-booth -- if that can be possible. It will also have to give up its lop-sided narrative and build instead an alternative that would appeal to all Indians. In other words, the Congress party will have to overhaul its ideological and operational game-plan so that its appeal to people will get enhanced. Will Congress be able to do that?
Karnataka did prove a great point for Congress, no doubt. Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan also may follow suit. For, in that case, it will be the country’s second biggest political party -- following the BJP. In that case, the Congress party will have to present and project itself as a truly nationally-oriented organisation working for classes and masses. It is in this area where the BJP will have an eternal edge over Congress. Does the Congress leadership have a good operational plan ready? Upon the answer to this question will depend if the Congress party is able to capitalise on the Karnataka victory and if it can retain its power in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. On these counts, its fate will depend.