The Opposition parties are trying to counter the nationalistic discourse that the BJP is seeking to set.
THE ALLIANCE puzzle is yet to be solved, the much talked about common minimum programme is a job well begun but only half done, and the poll campaign theme and slogan are far from final. As the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha poll schedule on Sunday, the Congress, which leads the Opposition block, is yet to put together the nuts and bolts of electioneering.
The Opposition had appeared to have gained an upper hand — perhaps for the first time since 2014 — in the immediate aftermath of the BJP’s defeat in the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. But the Pulwama terror attack and Balakot air strike have derailed its momentum.
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The Opposition parties are trying to counter the nationalistic discourse that the BJP is seeking to set. The Congress, particularly, is trying to bring the focus back on the Rafale deal, bank fraud cases, bread-and-butter issues like the job and agrarian crisis, and governance-related problems.
Top Congress leaders said campaign would take final shape in the next ten days or so. But alliance-building is proving to be a difficult task. The seat-sharing arrangement with the NCP and other parties in Maharashtra, JD(S) in Karnataka, RJD in Bihar, and CPI(M) in West Bengal is yet to be finalised.
On the other hand, the BJP has already announced its seat-sharing arrangement with Shiv Sena in Maharasthra and JD(U) in Bihar.
Tamil Nadu, perhaps, is the only state where the Opposition seat-sharing arrangement is in place. With the BJP tying up with the AIADMK, the battlelines are clearly drawn there.
The seat-sharing pact with the JMM in Jharkhand too has more or less been decided.
In Delhi, there is still confusion on whether the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will enter into an alliance.
In West Bengal, the Congress-CPM tactical understanding is yet to take shape. The CPM has gone ahead and announced its candidates in both its sitting seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad which were claimed by the Congress earlier.
CPM sources said the Congress would not contest in both these seats and, in return, it would not field its candidates in the four sitting seats of the Congress.
In Uttar Pradesh, the SP and BSP have announced a seat-sharing arrangement, despite much talk about Opposition unity.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which had contributed the most numerically to the Congress both in 2004 and 2009, the party has decided to go alone. The ruling TDP too has signalled the same, setting the stage for a four-cornered battle involving the YSRCP and BJP.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) is meeting in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Party leaders said they would officially blow the poll bugle from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.
Soon after the EC announced the poll schedule, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal told reporters that “the Congress and Opposition are united and we are very much confident that we will defeat the Modi government.”
“This government has failed to deliver its promises, including depositing `15 lakh in the bank accounts of the people of India, delivering jobs to the youth, providing security to women, increasing the income of farmers… in all sectors, the Modi government has failed terribly.
The government is desperately trying to cover up its failures through fake propaganda and event management.
The people across the country are aware about this dubious strategy of the Modi government,” Venugopal said at the party’s press conference.
The Congress, he said, would expose the government’s failure and put forward its idea regarding a ‘new India’ in its campaign.
“The party will highlight its vision and mission through the public meetings of Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders and a vigorous campaign method. The time for change is here. On May 23, the people of the country will choose a new government,” he said.