Strategic alliances, rather than building up a national
narrative against the Bharatiya Janata Party should be the focus of the Congress, ahead of the 2019 general elections, party strategists feel.
The Congress, which was keen to present the recent five Assembly polls as a 3:2 match, had to be content with 1:4 after the BJP
manipulated smaller parties to form governments in Goa and Manipur. Rahul Gandhi
has charged the saffron party of using money power to block the Congress
from coming to power in the two states.
After veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar suggested going back to the 2003 formula under which party chief Sonia Gandhi forged strategic alliances and took back power from the NDA at the centre in 2004, senior leader CP Joshi
expressed similar views.
Noting the political narrative has changed in the country, Joshi cited the example of Bihar Assembly polls in 2015 where a JD-U-RJD-Congress
grand alliance defeated the BJP-led NDA.
According to Joshi, a similar formation could have stopped the BJP
in Uttar Pradesh also but Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati played the spoil sport.
Doing some number crunching, the Congress
leader said that while the BJP
vote share in UP had dropped from 43 per cent in 2014 to 39 per cent in 2017, the SP plus Congress
vote share is around 29 per cent. If BSP's 23 percent was added, the SP, BSP, Congress
combined vote share would be 53 per cent, much ahead of the saffron party.
"Wait for 2019, there will be no space for BJP
in UP," said Joshi.
In contrast, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury favoured building up a national
narrative against the BJP
through a dialogue between like-minded parties and public movements on the ground.
According to Yechury, doing maths is a more academic exercise while mobilising popular support in favour of a political philosophy is what will educate the voter and bring about a change in his preferences.
Citing the example of West Bengal, where the Congress
had an informal seat adjustment with Yechury's party, the Congress
leader said a convergence of non-BJP
votes will have to be worked at.
"We will do everything that is required to challenge and expose Modi politics
but political challenges vary from state to state," said Joshi.
Incidentally, when the Congress-led UPA defeated the BJP
in 2004 national
polls, the Left parties supported the formation from outside and kept in floating till 2008 when they pulled out over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.