Congress party must take lead to forge an alliance with other parties
What the March 11 assembly election results of five states have proved is that several regional players and opposition have emerged very weak now. As a result, the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is likely to face a fractured opposition in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With the Congress and several regional players getting weaker by every election, unity is likely to evade the Opposition in 2019 general elections. This will make the job of the BJP-led NDA easier, if not a cakewalk.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to senior Janata Dal (United) leader K C Tyagi to know what the BJP’s UP election victory means for Congress and non-BJP parties in Karnataka and beyond. National general secretary said that it is a wakeup call for Congress and non-BJP parties. He is optimistic that if the non-BJP parties can forge a formidable alliance for 2019, Narendra Modi led BJP can be defeated as in past, non-Congress governments were formed in 1977, 1989 and 1990s. The JDU, RJD and Congress alliance have defeated the BJP in Bihar. The need of hour is to strengthen the mass base and ‘will’ to take on the communal party, said the JDU leader.
IC: What are the lessons learnt from the recently concluded assembly elections in five states? BJP has emerged as the strongest party while the opposition got a fractured mandate.
K C Tyagi: In Uttar Pradesh, a political mistake was made by the major political players of politically crucial state due to which the BJP won and formed the government. In 2014, election results of Bihar and UP were similar. BJP had won 73 seats in UP and 33 seats in Bihar. They were ahead in182 assembly segments in Bihar and 322 assembly segments in UP. For Bihar elections, we had forged a formidable alliance comprising of JDU, RJD and Congress party and successfully reduced the BJP lead to just 58 assembly segments from 182 in Bihar polls. There was no formidable alliance in UP and hence these parties lost miserably to the BJP. This will continue if they do not take corrective measures. In UP, despite marathon victory of the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress together have got 95 lakh votes more than the BJP. The voting percentage is 11 per cent more than the BJP in assembly elections in UP. If they had contested together, they would have won 302 seats. There was Modi wave and of course Modi–Shah formula worked. The opposition has blamed it on EVM which is not correct. It is a tampering of opposition unity. We must learn from it. The lesson is that we should get united, and win each and every election. We had tried in Assam, but failed. The problem is that the Congress is still living in the past.
Our leader Nitish Kumar tried to make a broad based alliance in Assam by inviting Asom Gana Parishad leader Prafulla Mahanta and UDF leader but Congress refused to have seat sharing arrangements with them and miserably lost. If they had fought together, they would have won successfully in Assam. The fact is that Congress is the biggest party. We are again approaching the Congress party to forge an alliance with JD(S) led by former PM H D Deve Gowda in Karnataka. Otherwise, we will face disaster in Karnataka as well.
IC: In Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah managed to consolidate Hindu votes whereas non BJP parties continued with appeasement policy of minority. Your comments.
I disagree with you. It is propaganda of the BJP. They had made similar allegations against Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar in Bihar but could not succeed. In UP, the real problem was opposition parties were not united. Also, the SP and BSP failed to enhance the mass base among the most backward OBCs, NBCs and other scheduled caste segments of SC. Majority of non-Yadav backward voted for Narendra Modi. Hindu votes were also consolidated. They managed to communalise the elections.
IC: The Congress may agree to form a wider coalition with the regional parties but will never support any candidate from any other party as the prime minister if it enters into a pre-poll alliance. Do you agree?
This is propaganda of BJP. We have heard this argument during non –congress politics days as well. We managed to defeat Congress in 1977, 1989 and 1996. We managed to defeat Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA in 2004. As far as Prime Ministerial candidate issue is concerned, it will be an open issue. Congress is free to project its leader so are other parties. It can be discussed later.
IC: So your point is that these issues can be discussed later… is it so?
We had seen the worst situation in 1996 as the government in power was weak. Yet we had managed to form the government under H D Deve Gowda’s prime ministership. If Congress party can defeat BJP in their prospective states then it may have its prime minister.
IC: What, according to you, should be done for 2019 elections?
The need of the hour is that Congress party must take lead, realize its weaknesses and try to forge an alliance with other parties to defeat the BJP led coalition. The task is difficult indeed. However, Nitish Kumar and NCP leader Sharad Pawar are contacting all political parties to have an political arrangements for Gujarat and Karnataka elections due to go to polls in next few months. Hopefully, we will be able to forge broad-based alliance in Karnataka and Gujarat.
IC: Have you given 2019 to BJP and begun planning for 2024?
If we don’t get united, we may have to wait till 2029. I can tell you that if we form an alliance, BJP won’t be able to get five seats from Bihar and 15 seats in UP in 2019 elections. We will be able to defeat BJP in 2019 if there is a formidable alliance of non-BJP parties. Karnataka and Gujarat are our next agenda. Nitish Kumarji is in touch with Sharad Pawarji and H D Deve Gowdaji. They are trying to provide a viable alternative to BJP. We will be able to form a formidable alliance provided Congress agrees with it. The BJP is trying to destabilize Congress and JD(S). They managed to get old Congress leader S M Krishna and influence Bangarappa’s son. Much will depend on the mindset and leadership of the Congress party, whether it has ‘will power’ to defeat divisive forces in the country.
IC: Voices within the Congress and outside questioning Rahul Gandhi's leadership ability to win elections are rising by the day. Do you subscribe to those views?
Congress party is our ally in Bihar. Rahul Gandhi is the leader of the biggest outfit in the opposition. We do not have any complaint against him. It is an internal matter of the Congress party to decide on this issue as voices are coming from within the party.
IC: Do you think Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics can change fortune of the Congress party?
What will change… if booth chemistry does not work properly in Congress? The BJP prepares its election strategy like a war which is missing in the Congress party.
IC: As a political analyst, do you think that the Congress party is bereft of strong regional leaders?
Gone are the days when Indira Gandhi used to select and elect chief ministers. They should have strong regional leaders which will help the party enhance its mass base in states. For instance, BJP has no leader who can give fight to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. PM Narendra Modi was no match to Nitish Kumar in Bihar.#(Published on 27th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 13)