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Cong battle in Gujarat
Ahmed Patel has won the Rajya Sabha seat but Congress lost its stronghold on party in Gujarat
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The Congress leader Ahmed Patel's victory in Gujarat for a Rajya Sabha seat on Tuesday is a morale booster for the party, which was badly needed, in a nail-biting finish that witnessed delay in counting of votes late last night. The high drama lasting past mid-night before the Election Commission, which disqualified the two Congress rebels and getting two votes from two other allies of BJP saved the situation ensuring the win for Ahmed Patel. But, Congress ignored its failure to cash in on the disillusionment of the people against Bhartiya Janata Party, which has been in power for three terms in Gujarat. Moreover, Congress has also failed in keeping its flock together because of dissensions within the party that created a vertical division and lost some of its legislators to BJP's machinations. Things started going awry for the Congress two weeks ago when six of its MLAs resigned, including senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela and and former party whip Balwantsinh Rajput. At one point, unfortunately, Congress had to keep its MLAs in a resort in Bengaluru in a haste for many days before the RS elections to prevent further poaching by BJP. Ignoring its internal conflict lost the Congress six MLAs, but this does not appear to be the end of the discontent because there is resentment against Patel among senior party leaders. The party was trying to concentrate on the victory of Ahmed Patel alone while ignoring consolidation of its supporters and sympathisers, who were completely disappointed with the way BJP was running the affairs in Gujarat. Such a turn of events that began a fortnight back in Gujarat calls for fresh introspection within the Congress besides realignment of political forces jointly opposed to BJP rule and its policies. This is also necessary in view of the coming Legislative Assembly elections scheduled for next year in Gujarat. The Congress also needs to go for pre-electoral alliances with the opposition parties for putting up a combined front against BJP in the state so that an alternate is worked out well in advance.

Even though the Congress won, the party and Patel have been consistently losing ground to the BJP in the state. The calls for some retrospection and introspection ahead of the assembly polls from the senior party leaders, who have resigned from the party and joined BJP before the RS polls have been ignored by the central leaders. The Congress in Gujarat has for a long time not seen any decisive action, required for a party to sustain as a serious opposition. The party did not capitalise on the opportunities to step up as a strong opposition during the Patidar Andolan in 2015, the Dalit agitation post the Una flogging incident, the agitation led by Alpesh Thakor, or the protests by sanitation and anganwadi workers in 2016, all of which put the BJP under some pressure. Besides this, the Patel community mobilisation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP was an opportunity for the Congress to consolidate and gain from resentment against the ruling party. It is also no secret that the Congress has slowly but steadily become defunct as it has mostly dependent on some NGOs to play the role of the opposition. Every debacle followed a change in GPCC president and not meeting with ground workers or local leaders for the sake of refurbishing the image of its leaders and strengthening the party rank and file. Sadly, both the parties BJP and Congress have been fighting a battle for retaining power either at the centre or states where both the entities have no base or party strength to provide an alternative to provide good governance and changes in the way governments are run for the benefit of common masses. Both Congress and BJP are at the mercy of the corporate houses, which finance and change the rulers to their own financial benefits at the cost of democratic principles and common masses. It is time for Congress to introspect and prepare for a bigger war in the political arena.

News Updated at : Thursday, August 10, 2017
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