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Business News/ Politics / Lok Sabha 2024 a ‘battle of ideologies’: Congress could be a game-changer if...
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Lok Sabha 2024 a ‘battle of ideologies’: Congress could be a game-changer if...

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar exited the INDIA bloc and West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee declared that the TMC will go solo in the Lok Sabha elections. In this scenario, what more could the Congress do to defeat the BJP and become a game-changer in the general elections?

Lok Sabha Election 2024: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, in Siliguri, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (PTI)Premium
Lok Sabha Election 2024: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, in Siliguri, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (PTI)

The Congress has repeatedly emphasised that this year's Lok Sabha Elections will be a "battle of ideologies". The general elections in 2024 is set to witness a contest between the Opposition's INDIA bloc and the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Political analysts say there's "vast" ideological difference between the two groups.

But does a political party's ideology play a crucial role in elections?

Besides, the Congress and Opposition's INDIA bloc may have been burning the midnight oil to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. However, with a few leaders switching political parties, and political parties switching alliances, the INDIA bloc is expected to face a major hit in upcoming polls.

So here, a question arises — What more could Congress do to become a game-changer in the Lok Sabha polls? Here's what political analysts told Mint while answering these two questions:

Importance of ideology in elections

Praveen Rai, a political analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDC), said ideology, as we understand it, is Left, Right and Centrist. He said that in some way, "the ideological positioning has started becoming important and has a voting decision".

However, another analyst Chandan Gowda said, "I won't say it's the most important, but an important thing." He added, "You need to evolve a vision that captures the minds of the people."'

So, what is the core difference between the ideologies of Congress and BJP?

Congress

Speaking with students from Harvard University in December 2023, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “We believe India is a union of states, and what defines India is conversation between its people based on democracy, human rights, and a neutral institutional framework."

Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said in February 2023, “We should be absolutely clear in our ideological stance in favour of an inclusive India. Protecting our diversity and pluralism should be the Congress' core message. We should outline a progressive economic policy agenda to end this unacceptable inequality."

In his analysis, Gowda said the core ideological difference is the centrality of the commitment to secularism “in the sense that the Congress is trying present itself as the party that protects all religions, stands for the welfare of everyone."

Explaining more about the Congress's stance, analyst Juggi Bhasin said the “Congress used to be a Centrist party". However, it has "slowly moved away and under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, it has become completely left-centred", he added.

BJP

Juggi Bhasin said, "The BJP has been going through a certain pattern. With the concept of Ram Rajya, the BJP is clear that they want a centralised government in India..."

Meanwhile, Praveen Rai explained that with the coming of BJP, people are now "quite aware of issues...such as "nationalism, foreign policy, national security, abrogation of Article 370, temple corridors." 

So is the Congress's ideology helping the party? What more should Congress do to up its game in Lok Sabha polls?

Analysts believe that the Congress must work, not just on its ideology, but many other factors to give the BJP a tough fight in the Lok Sabha Elections. Here's an explanation of these factors:

1. Ideology

Juggi Bhasin said the Congress' ideology is "still a Western construct". However, "the BJP has incorporated a 'desi' vision of governance - that is Ram Rajya", he added. He said the only way the Congress can fill in the gap is to move away from “today's Rahul Gandhi's hard-Left vision of governance and polity to his father's (Rajiv Gandhi's) vision of Central style of governance and managing politics in India".

Meanwile, political strategist Prashant Kishor said at “Express Adda" that the Congress “need to stick to one belief and strive towards dispensing that message “. He said, "One cannot keep jumping from one goal to another. Today, it is Rafale, tomorrow, Hindutva...this won’t work." He said the grand-old party must focus on “galvanising who are not convinced with this Hindutva…"

2. Unity in INDIA

In the wake of JD(U)'s exit, how might the INDIA coalition proceed? Chandan Gowda said the leadership issue seems sorted with Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge becoming the chairperson of the Opposition's alliance. "

"But the other dynamics between the coalition partners, especially the willingness to work cooperatively will be necessary to see," Gowda said.

His statement came in the light of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar exiting the INDIA bloc and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declaring that her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), will go solo in the general elections.

3. Policy formation

Praveen Rai said the Congress initiated an idea of rich-poor divide and equality but has not been able to formulate a policy to deal with these issues. He said, "The whole positioning of INDIA bloc and that Congress that they are secular, they respect all religion — this is something which their party and party leader are only able to understand."

"But if they are talking about this, then they have to come out with a policy...The Opposition doesn't have any programme, any policy on how to take on the BJP...," the analyst said.

Citing an example of the Ram Mandir inauguration, Rai said, "They (Congress) got the opportunity with Ram temple, but their boycott is gain providing BJP with very strong issue. They could have utilised this opportunity to go there...and ideological position would not have been seen as 'anti-Hindu'."

4. Nationalism and patriotism

Bhasin said the Congress "has to legitimise the use of words nationalism and patriotism". He believes that these two words are absent in Congress's lexicon. “At the end of the day, it is one of the things that bind Indians together. They have to rediscover their aspiration towards nationalism. It's a standalone concept," he added.

The Lok Sabha Elections are set to take place this year. The Election Commission of India has not declared dates for the polls yet. However, both the BJP, the Congress and the INDIA bloc have upped their ante for the crucial Lok Sabha polls.

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Published: 29 Jan 2024, 06:12 AM IST
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