New Delhi: After a stunning victory in Karnataka, the focus of Congress leadership has shifted to the next round of assembly elections where the party is locked in a direct contest with the BJP in some states.
With assembly elections due in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram in the next few months, the Congress is working on poll strategies in these states and has convened a meeting of state leaders on May 24.
While Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are two states ruled by the Congress where it is hoping to offset the anti-incumbency factor and factional fighting by replicating the ‘Karnataka strategy’, the party is also determined to make a comeback in Madhya Pradesh where it lost power after Jyotiraditya Scindia and some of the MLAs switched loyalties, sources said.
They said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has called a meeting of its leaders from Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh on May 24 to strategise on the upcoming assembly elections.
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Kharge will hold separate meetings with the state leaders.
A senior leader said the idea is to chalk out an early strategy to reach out to the grassroots level.
”The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which passed through states like Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, will benefit the party as the cadres are already activated and the party will get the benefit of the Yatra, as it did in Karnataka,” a senior leader involved with one of the states told PTI.
Another leader said the good schemes and works initiated by the Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will be highlighted in a big way and the poll strategy adopted by the party leadership in Karnataka will be replicated in these poll-bound states.
The Congress faces peculiar challenges in several of these states, especially due to infighting and factionalism.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has to tackle the festering feud between Sachin Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Upping the ante, Pilot has threatened to launch an agitation if his demands were not met by May end.
Concluding his five-day Jan Sangarsh Yatra in Jaipur during which he targeted the Gehlot government on the issue of corruption, Pilot had recently placed three demands – disbanding the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) and its reorganisation, compensation to youths affected by the government exam paper leak and conducting a high-level inquiry into corruption allegations against the previous Vasundhara Raje government.
There is an also open fight between Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and state minister T S SinghDeo, who has been staking claim to the top post in the state.
In Telangana too, its state unit chief Revanth Reddy faces infighting from state leaders who consider him an outsider.
In Karnataka, the party gave five guarantees to the people of the state and the politics of freebies seems to have worked in its favour The party is likely to carry this freebie policy forward in other poll-bound states after its success in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka..
Another senior leader said the party needs to start now and present a united face against the BJP, as has been done in Himachal, Karnataka and some other states, where the state leaders were projected.
In Karnataka, state leaders, nudged by the central leadership, presented a united face all through the campaign – a factor that helped the party oust the BJP.
The differences did come to the fore soon after the victory and the race for chief ministership became intense but the party succeeded in overcoming the challenge.
The party is in a direct contest with the BJP in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, even though there is a triangular fight in Telangana among the Congress, the BJP and the ruling BRS.
The Congress is not leaving any stone unturned to continue its winning spree, after wresting Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka from the BJP, as the party hopes to consolidate its gains.