Congress received a major boost with the Karnataka and Gujarat elections; though, it comes across as Congress failed to hit the field actively in Maharashtra with an eye on the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, considering the over-confidence of the party towards the state voters of Maharashtra, leaving them in a radical disappointment.
Maharashtra Mahila Congress Committee President Dr. Charulata Tokas stated, “From the last few months, Congress is training its grassroot workers to counter the wrongdoings of the incumbent government. We are very well playing the role of the main opposition and we organised Akrosh Rally this summer in Delhi and now we are coming up with Jan Sangharsh Yatra. Though we have opposed each and every wrong decision by the central government but the Media failed to highlight our protests. Congress is all set to field its aggressive strategy to highlight citizen’s concern before the upcoming elections.”
However, Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan on Monday had said that the party would organise a “Jan Sangharsh Yatra” in western Maharashtra to highlight the misrule of the BJP-led government at the Centre and the state. The Yatra would begin from Kolhapur on August 31 and culminate at Pune on September 7 and would cover Sangli, Satara and Solapur in between.
A Goregaon resident on the condition of anonymity expressed that Congress has disheartened us as we expect more initiatives from the party than just holding rallies.
She continued explaining, “The ruling government has immensely dissatisfied us with the amount of promises they made during the 2014 elections; however, they have failed to fulfil them. According to me, the party had a better scope to make a comeback with the upcoming elections but looking at the current scenario, the party has taken the Maharashtra voters for granted. However, it would be wrong for them to consider that the state voters do not have any other option than BJP and Congress.”
Earlier this year, there were talks about Congress and NCP to form an alliance in Maharashtra but it came to light that the Congress and the NCP had started working on strengthening their organisational setups separately and launched various mass outreach programmes to take on the BJP-led state government. Nonetheless, apart from holding a few rallies infrequently such as Hawkers’ Rally last year, and Bicycle Rally over the fuel price hike this year in April, and a pothole campaign in July by Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam.
BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar commented, “Congress is invisible in Maharashtra nowadays. They have lost their ground and their leaders are almost inactive. The party does not have any kind of motivation for its workers. Congress is taking the state voters for granted. Now, Congress is in a bad patch.”
A few months ago Sharad Pawar-led NCP had been undertaking “Hallabol” (attack) Yatras in various regions of the state to “expose” the ruling BJP. On the other hand, Supriya Sule, party MP and the daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar had a strong stand against the Chief Minister when the SSC textbooks released for History and Political Science invited criticism from the political parties due to this issue and opposed that Devendra Fadnavis would not be allowed to step out of the Mantralaya if the government does not recall a Class 10 textbook, the content of which has political overtones.
NCP MLA Prakash Gajbhiye asserted, “Earlier we had organised Sangharsh Yatra in alliance with Congress. Later, we held a Halla Bol Rally in Maharashtra. We are all together campaigning against the government for the upcoming elections. While the Congress and the NCP are standing together against the BJP government, there also might be an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to avoid the polarisation of the secular votes.”
Anyway, earlier, Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan admitted that the NCP has taken a lead over the Congress in projecting itself as an aggressive opposition party by attacking the Devendra Fadnavis-led government and maintaining the momentum.
Alternate Investment specialist Vikrant Jog, a resident of Kalyan exclaimed, “Congress is gone to the docks. Congress is always late in everything; they are also late in development plans. I won’t be surprised if they are shattered completely. I believe that there should be a strong opposition party with a better agenda than the ruling party. I feel Congress should do campaigning right from Gram Panchayats first and they should think about winning assembly elections because Congress lost their grassroot touch from the last 20 -25 years. In the past, the party used to win elections by taking advantages of the polarisation of votes.”
With the fading away of the Modi-wave after its failure in implementing demonetisation and GST properly and after receiving severe backlash for the increase in farmers’ suicide and many more, it was an opportunity for the Congress to make a comeback in the field to grab a majority of the vote bank in Maharashtra for the 2019 elections. Now, when the state is just a year away from the polls, citizens are hoping for Congress and its state-leadership to get back as the major opposition party with more impactful and consistent steps for the welfare of common man.
By Mohit Soman & Twinkle Mehta