Recently, the BJP registered a thunderous win by forming a consecutive government in 4 out of 5 states for the 2022 Assembly elections in UP, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand. Many believed that the issue of Pandemic mismanagement, inflation, and employment might not make it win, but it did. So, looking ahead to the future, the BJP eyes the 2024 election now.
For Congress, it is the third election after two defeats in which it witnessed declining performances during 2014 and 2019 with its lowest scores to date. Although, the margin of the BJP’s win over Congress in the national elections is quite high. Still, talking about a competition, Congress has been the only political party to cross a double-digit number in the elections against BJP.
To some extent, Congress maintained its vote share of the 2014 elections in 2019 despite low numbers. But, apart from it, all the other opposition parties lost some of their loyal voters. Despite every other argument, Congress is the only national-level competitor of the BJP, which PM Modi and Amit Shah know how to ignore and use to their benefit.
For this reason, BJP never fails to target Congress even when it’s campaigning in a state where the Congress party has no stronghold like West Bengal. Every election campaign of the BJP is incomplete without targeting Rahul Gandhi’s statements, Sonia Gandhi’s origin, and a search for leaders desiring to leave the grand-old party.
This makes 3 things clear. Firstly, Congress is the only possible competitor of the BJP. Secondly, even if the vote share of Congress increases, BJP will still be able to form a government with its allies. Thirdly, the Gandhi family is the prime binding force of Congress that keeps it together. So, every criticism is targeted at them. The Congress Party is well aware of these things. But, it does take them lightly and doesn’t think over the reasons for BJP’s win with big margins.
The beliefs of Congress
It gives 3 problems with the belief of Congress. Firstly, they believe that BJP is still in the developing phase and a reason to win, as the airstrike after the Pulwama attack in 2019 won’t be available every time.
However, this time the people will vote them out due to mismanagement and economic problems. Secondly, the RSS ideology would work against the BJP and won’t get the votes of the people. Also, the only argument BJP has is the past of the Congress party. Thirdly, they have to become more left-aligned like the decision to align with the left in West Bengal and Kerala can make them win or perform well.
Can Mamata Banerjee Be an Alternative?
No, doubt Mamata Banerjee gave a strong defeat to BJP who spent all its might in West Bengal. But, a single Victory in a state is not enough to compete with BJP at a national level. Also, the West Bengal model of governance and popularity is not equally possible in other states for TMC like its defeat in Goa. Moreover, elections are held in India after some months every year which makes people forget the victory in a state soon.
Is an alliance without Congress a way out?
Also, in the 2022 elections of 5 states, congress was the only competitor of the BJP in 4 states except for UP. So even after it’s swept away in these elections, it will still be the only one to compete for BJP in 2024. Particularly, after the opposition parties show no sign of a united alliance because they are busy making hostilities with each other. The low numbers of Congress made CM Mamata Banerjee think of a third alliance against BJP excluding congress. If this happens, the opposition will be further weakened because it will have to fight both Congress and BJP which will be beneficial for BJP.
Even after tons of criticism against them, we cannot ignore what the BJP says: there can be no Congress without Gandhi Family. So, getting them away from the party won’t necessarily revive it. A planned and active approach with a vision for the future is something that Congress needs to convince the people. The BJP has the RSS backing, but Congress only has the Gandhi family. Also, the coalitions without Congress and BJP in the past have only fallen like V.P Singh’s Jan Morcha.
What is the solution?
A way out can be cracking deals and forming a single united opposition that will increase the vote share. It can be done by taking advantage of the popularity of regional party leaders in their respective states like the one done to form UPA-1 that ousted former PM Vajpayee from Power in 2004. However, in that case, Congress might have to leave its prime position to lead or take a back seat and agree to the demands of the other parties too. It will be difficult but not impossible. So, the Extent of the Challenge for the BJP and PM Modi In 2024 depends on Congress.