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Wrong Approach

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The decision of the Congress not to put up candidates against Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav in the UP elections is yet another sign of the party’s ideological meltdown. Like the earlier fiasco, when it allied with the Samajwadi Party as a junior partner for the electoral fray, the party has fundamentally conceded important political space to what is ultimately a state level party. The thought that the support would be reciprocated in Lok Sabha elections is misbegotten and sends the wrong message to the electorate.

The Congress should take a lesson, instead, from the AIMIM, which rightly believes in, first, creating its own votebank rather than seeking ‘transfers’ from others. The AIMIM may not succeed in a state like UP in obtaining anything like a significant number of seats, but it will ensure that, even with a few MLAs, it will negotiate from a strong position in a post-poll alliance after a possible divided mandate. It is foolish to contest an election by accepting that one doesn’t stand a chance of winning a majority, which is what the ‘national’ party, Congress, is doing.

It may be claimed that the primary objective is that of defeating the BJP, but at the price of self-obliteration? It has been seen in the past that a tie-up with the SP by any party is toxic. And an ideologically grounded and cadre based party like the BJP is not going anywhere. It will continue to pursue its political goals even if it fails to get a majority. It is fundamentally an ideological battle, something that the Congress is totally clueless about under the Gandhi siblings. There can be very little vote-getting ‘charisma’ without performance on the ground.

Merely making election promises that are entirely unsustainable even in the short term, not even believable, is just the strategy of a newbie trying to ‘break through’, such as the AAP. In the case of Uttarakhand, for instance, the Congress is trying to emulate the AAP model with giveaways (for which read the manifesto released by Priyanka Vadra on Wednesday). It should actually have substantial examples to give of past performance, such as what ND Tiwari did for the state. Sadly, it fails to understand even that. This is because the ‘young’ leadership is trying to find its way and has projected its shortcomings on to the party, disregarding its existing senior leadership that provides continuity with the past. It merely reveals lack of governance experience and maturity. This will only ensure even further decline in the foreseeable future.