The cat was out of the bag the day Priyanka Vadra Gandhi while discussing election with workers in Amethi said,’ not this one but 2022’. Priyanka was talking of the next UP Vidhan Sabha election. This was the first indication that the First Family of the Congress is not concentrating on this election but looking ahead. This was further confirmed when Congress President Rahul Gandhi chose to fight also from Wayanad in Kerala for there he is pitted against not the BJP but the CPM whose leaders till some time back were comrades in arms of the then emerging but now defunct all India anti-BJP alliance.
It is being said that Rahul’s move will help his party in the South where 130 seats are at stake in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala ,Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This may be correct but his this one move has flattened any hopes of an all India alliance against Narendra Modi and created further problems for the Communists who as it is are fighting for their survival. He also had the choice of fighting from Karnataka where his party is in power in a coalition. But he chose Kerala and the message is clear.
There is now total confusion and chaos in the opposition camp as earlier Rahul had also riled one after another, Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal. Mamta has now called Rahul,’ bachcha’, and Mayawati is threatening to finish the Congress in UP and Kejriwal is lamenting that Rahul is not listening to his appeals for a common front against BJP in Delhi. And now the comrades are frothing at the mouth with old pal Sitaram Yechuri saying ‘ Rahul should decide whether he is fighting us or BJP‘. Prakash Karat is less charitable and is threatening to defeat Rahul in Wayanad. The CPM mouthpiece in Malayalam has already called Rahul ,’Pappu ‘.
But Rahul is not worried about the discomfiture of the communists in their last bastion, he is concentrating on the revival of his party. He has realised that too many compromises with other parties have left the Congress severely handicapped. The party is out of power in Tamil Nadu since 1967, from West Bengal since 1977 and from UP since 1981. Therefore this time he has decided to take a stand and has jettisoned his mother’s policy of cooperation and coexistence with other parties who are anti-BJP.
He has realised that it may not be possible to defeat Narendra Modi this time so is being realistic and concentrating on strengthening his party all over the country though it may mean treading on lot of other anti Modi toes. This is the reason that sister Priyanka has been asked to help out in UP though in the words of Mark Tully ,’ she has not been able to create any wave in the Ganges ‘. Rahul is trying to strengthen his party in the most populated state in India but triangular fight could help Modi by dividing opposition votes.
But that’s not Rahul’s worry. He has come to term with the return of Modi and BJP and therefore is trying to weaken the other anti BJP parties so that next battle can be straight between him and Modi and their parties. This has as of now helped Modi as the opposition camp is showing total incoherence against a united NDA.
Will Rahul’s gamble pay off ? Will he be able to fight Modi and BJP in 2024? Who can tell. Five years is a long time. After five years there maybe severe anti incumbency against Modi or these five years can even make Modi unbeatable.