BJP vs Congress: BJP's war machine and RSS cadre went all out to prevent the entry of close Rahul Gandhi aides in the new Lok Sabha depriving him of their support when he needs them the most.
BJP’s war machine had identified its electoral targets and went for the kill with pinpoint precision even before the Lok Sabha elections were announced. The strategy was aimed at further isolation of an aggressive Rahul Gandhi who has been mounting a spirited campaign against the BJP and Prime Minister both inside and outside the Parliament. Congress leaders complain that BJP identified close Rahul Gandhi aides in the Lok Sabha and went all out to ensure their defeat in the election.
The success of BJP’s ruthless electoral strategy of ensuring the defeat of close Rahul Gandhi aides has deprived him of their support when he needs them the most.
Two of Rahul Gandhi’s trusted aides – former union power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sushmita Dev (former Lok Sabha member from Silchar in Assam) – have been defeated in the recently concluded national election. Both of them fall in the same age group as Rahul Gandhi and are part of his core team.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who used to sit next to Rahul Gandhi in the second row, was seen helping and assisting Rahul Gandhi during the shrill debates with NDA members in the house. Forty-eight year old Scindia has been defeated in Guna Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh by BJP candidate Krishna Pal Singh Yadav by a margin of over 1.25 lakh votes.
Scindia had been winning from Guna Lok Sabha seat since 2002 after the seat fell vacant due to his father Madhav Rao Scindia’s death in an air crash in Uttar Pradesh in 2001. He never lost an election from Guna before his shock defeat this time. Scindia was able to hold on to his seat even when there was a strong wave in favor of Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha election that allowed the BJP to bag 27 of 29 seats in the state in the previous election.
“I think BJP deliberately deployed its leaders and large number of resources to ensure Jyotiraditya Scindia’s defeat from Guna, ” said a Congress leader who was closely involved with Scindia’s election campaign.
Congress leaders complain that the BJP deliberately deployed its star campaigners to ensure Scindia’s defeat, considered one of the most trusted aides of Rahul Gandhi.
“BJP sent top leaders like Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath to ensure his defeat,” the Congress leader told Financial Express Online.
Congress leaders accuse the BJP of deliberately targeting close Rahul aides in the Lok Sabha as per a carefully crafted election strategy to further isolate him in the house. They also cite the example of Sushmita Dev, head of women wing of the party – All India Mahila Congress.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself visited Silchar twice in January and March this year. They also deployed Himanta Biswa Sarma, their master strategist in the region to ensure her defeat. Assam chief minister Sarbanad Sonowal also conducted rallies there,” said the Congress leader who campaigned for the party in Silchar Lok Sabha seat.
The BJP won 9 out of 14 seats in Assam and Congress could only win 3 seats despite a marginal difference of just half a per cent in terms of popular votes. While BJP bagged 36.1% popular votes in the north-eastern state, the Congress bagged 35.44% votes.
Sushmita Dev was one of the most vocal Congress members in the Lok Sabha who were deployed by the party to target the Prime Minister Modi over the issues like note ban and Rafale fighter jet deal. In fact, her voice was clearly discernible among the members of Congress shouting brigade tasked to corner the government in the lower house.
It was Sushmita’s relentless chanting of Pradhan Mantri Jawab Do, Jawab Do (Prime Minister please give an answer) that could be heard in the background when speaker Sumitra Mahajan continued to run the house despite slogan shouting by the opposition benches.
It was her sharp attacks on the NDA in the Lok Sabha that drew her close to the party leadership and resulted in her appointment as president of All India Mahila Congress.
“BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav, who is also their Kashmir in-charge, was there in Silchar for two days just before the polling. It shows that how much importance they attached to her defeat,” added the Congress leader who campaigned for the party in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Rajasthan.
Sushmita Dev’s defeat at the hands of BJP candidate Rajdeep Roy by over 80,000 votes has deprived Rahul Gandhi of one of his trusted hands in the house as he looks forward to carry on with his agenda of cornering the Prime Minister with his direct attacks.
Similarly, the Congress will sorely miss Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of Congress party in the previous Lok Sabha. Kharge a trusted aid of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was leading the Congress MPs in the battle against the ruling NDA on the floor of the house.
Seventy-six years old former railways minister lost the Lok Sabha election from Gulbarga in Karnataka to his BJP rival Umesh G. Jadhav by over 95,000 votes.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started his Lok Sabha election campaign in Karnataka-Hyderabad region by addressing rallies in Gulbarga-Kalburgi in March this year.
The saffron party poached the Congress MLA Umesh Jadhav just ahead of PM Modi’s rally to field him against Kharge who had never lost a Lok Sabha election from Gulbarga since 1972.
Though Kharge was hoping for a record 12th straight victory from the seat but Prime Minister Modi’s strategy eventually ensured his defeat and left the Congress President politically even more vulnerable in the lower house.