By Saiyed Moziz Imam Zaidi
New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Congress is trying hard to win elections in Assam and Kerala where it is directly pitched against its opponents with senior party leader Rahul Gandhi initiating campaign in all the poll-bound states barring West Bengal.
After being decimated in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, the Congress is losing its numbers in the Upper House, especially following the demise of senior party leader Ahmed Patel.
While the BJP is winning state after state, the Congress has been reduced to just four states and it is in alliance in two states. However, the Congress has not been able to win the big states.
Party insiders say that Congress has to focus on winning state polls to keep itself relevant in the Upper House. The situation is worse in the Lok Sabha where the Congress lacks representation from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Delhi.
The combined strength of the Congress has fallen below 100, and the gap between the BJP and the Congress in the Rajya Sabha is also at its widest ever. The BJP has 92 members in the Upper House and is set to gain two more from the bypolls in Gujarat, while the Congress has only 36 members in the Upper House.
The five states going to the polls this year could change the dynamics if the party puts up a good show there, as Tamil Nadu has 18 seats, followed by West Bengal (16), Kerala (9), Assam (7) and Puduchery (1).
If the Congress wins the elections in Assam and Kerala, it could enhance its numbers in the Upper House, but it will still be short of the BJP’s tally.
The BJP has been able to drive its legislations in both the Houses of the Parliament owing to its numerical majority, while the opposition has been alleging that the ruling did not follow the procedures, especially while passing the farm laws.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has been appointed the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha by M. Venkiah Naidu, chairman of the House, after the post fell vacant following the retirement of Ghulam Nabi Azad on February 16.
The Congress leaders are saying that before the 2004 general elections, the Congress ruled 14 states but the number has reduced to just four now. If the party wants to survive, it has to focus on regional leaders and on winning state elections.
The party has lost the crucial states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to regional players, while it has failed to dislodge the government in Odisha. In northeast too, it has lost all the states where it once held fort.
The Congress dissenters are also emphasising on the need to nurture state leaders and have demanded elections from block to the CWC level to galvanise the organisation.