FPJ Editorial: Congress’ Soft Hindutva Won’t Work

FPJ Editorial: Congress’ Soft Hindutva Won’t Work

The defeat of the Congress will deprive the party of the leadership position in the I.N.D.I.A that it helped to form to defeat the BJP in the 2024 elections.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, December 03, 2023, 10:52 PM IST
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More than the victory of the BJP, it is the defeat of the Congress in three large North Indian states that is likely to be discussed in the coming days. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that it is the failure of the Congress to win the confidence of the people that facilitated the victory of the BJP. The Congress was confident of its victory in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, and hopeful of retaining Rajasthan. In the end, it had to be satisfied with the sole victory in Telangana. The possible conclusion is that the Congress has forfeited its appeal to the voters in North India. Of course, it can be claimed that the people of Rajasthan followed their tradition of experimenting with the BJP and the Congress every five years. They would have been horrified by the infighting in the Congress, especially between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.

The Congress was almost certain of retaining Chattisgarh because it believed that its Chief Minister was doing a wonderful job. The fact of the matter is that the kind of politics he pursued was almost similar to that of the BJP. Harassment of minorities, especially Christians, was rampant. Bhupesh Baghel tried to imitate the BJP, be it on finding virtues in cow urine or organising Ramayana festivals. Actually, the contest turned out to be between the Congress’ soft Hindutva and the BJP’s hard Hindutva. When the choice is between the real and the spurious, the people tend to choose the real. And that is what the results show.

BJP engineered split in Congress

Five years ago, the Congress had won Madhya Pradesh, but the BJP was able to engineer a split in the Congress by spiriting away Jyotiraditya Scindia and his followers. On many issues, Kamal Nath, too, took a pro-Hindutva stance, surrendering the Congress’ secular credentials. In fact, the Congress has been wary of taking any pro-minority stance.

In Telangana, the people were tired of BRS, whose leader had at one time high ambitions of becoming Prime Minister. Rao did not know that he had lost the support of the common people as he devoted time to esoteric and religious rituals that did not show his party in a good light. The people of Telangana wanted an alternative and they saw it in the Congress. The BJP’s lack of appeal in the state also helped the party. The victory also highlights that the Congress has been reduced to a South Indian party, notwithstanding its government in Himachal Pradesh.

Factional fights affected Congress

Narendra Modi’s strategy of not announcing any chief ministerial candidate in any of the states paid off. While the Congress suffered from factional fights, all the factions in the BJP worked together for the success of the organisation. Of course, Modi can claim with some measure of authority that the people voted for him. Now, he is in a position to nominate chief ministers in these states, as he nominated in states like Haryana, Gujarat and Uttarakhand.

The defeat of the Congress will deprive the party of the leadership position in the I.N.D.I.A that it helped to form to defeat the BJP in the 2024 elections. Now, it will have to vacate the position to someone like Mamata Banerjee. In fact, the future of I.N.D.I.A is now at stake. True, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra helped him to recover some of his lost ground in politics, but the results show that it was not sufficient for the grand old party to recapture its commanding position. The Congress must realise that it can win the hearts of the people not by offering the least resistance to the BJP’s Hindutva politics but by promoting politics that is inclusive and has pan-India appeal. It cannot be a carbon copy of the ruling party. Its future hinges on a recalibration of its approach, fostering a distinct identity, resonating with the diverse aspirations of the Indian populace. The defeats should serve as a clarion call for introspection and strategic repositioning, ensuring the Congress remains a formidable force in India's political landscape.

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