The twin messages of the Assembly poll results on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls have not been lost on the Congress leadership.
Its thin margins of victories in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have convinced the Congress leadership about the need to strike judicious alliances with smaller parties in these states in 2019.
The Congress top leadership has also identified that first 70 days’ performance of its respective governments in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh would be the key to improved performances in these states in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress governments in the three states would have 60-70 days to implement some of its promises before the Election Commission’s model code of conduct comes into force, possibly by the first week of March.
On Wednesday, as the Congress legislature parties in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan went through the motions to select their respective leaders, the Congress top leadership in Delhi asked its policy experts and senior members of the party’s manifesto committee to calculate the financial costs of delivering on the promises the party made in the three states. The party is also likely to form committees in all three states to oversee implementation of key promises.
The Congress promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days of coming to power in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It has also committed itself to prohibition in Chhattisgarh and a significant monthly allowance to jobless youths in all three states.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who quit as Madhya Pradesh chief minister on Wednesday, asked the Congress to make good on party chief Rahul Gandhi's campaign promise of farm loan waiver. “Now it is our responsibility to play the role of chowkidar (watchman). We are not going to sit silent,” Chouhan said, adding that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would now focus on 2019 polls.
In 2014, the BJP had won 10 of 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh, 27 of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh and all 25 seats of Rajasthan.
Besides, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh promised a 50 per cent cut in power tariffs for agricultural pumps up to 10 HP. In Rajasthan, the Congress manifesto promised three-year tax holiday for new industries established in hilly areas and desert, farm loan waiver within 10 days of forming the government.
Congress Rajasthan unit chief Sachin Pilot had told Business Standard before the polls that his party’s government in the state would focus on taking care of agrarian distress in the first 100 days. He said that besides waiving farm loans, a Congress government would also aim to provide easy access to credit, to markets, ensuring procurement on minimum support price, manure, electricity and irrigation. Pilot identified joblessness as the second big issue that a Congress government would need to address.
Raj Cong asks Rahul to pick CM
In Rajasthan, a Congress delegation was scheduled to meet Governor Kalyan Singh at 7 pm to stake claim to form the government. The Congress Legislature Party met in the morning and passed a single-line resolution leaving the final decision to party president Rahul Gandhi. The contenders are former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state unit chief Sachin Pilot.
Central observer K C Venugopal spoke with elected legislators and relayed the feedback to the central leadership. Some rebel MLAs who contested as independents were in touch with Ashok Gehlot, party sources said.
The Congress won 99 seats and its alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Dal got one of the 199 seats.