After its defeat in the Delhi polls, there are demands in the Congress to investigate allegations of mismanagement, particularly of not hiring a publicity company to manage its media campaign. The insistence of top Delhi leaders that only companies of their choice be given the contract led to none getting any. The leaders also resisted suggestions that former chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s photographs be put on the hoardings and advertisements. This move was vetoed by two top leaders. However, after adverse media reports, both agreed (on using Dikshit’s pictures) but infighting on other issues continued. No effective campaign could thus be mounted as the party finished a distant third.
Election battle I
There is speculation that election strategist Prashant Kishor, during his much-anticipated press conference in Patna on Tuesday, will announce a “third front”, ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls, due later in the year. Kishor, who was expelled from the Janata Dal (United) last month and recently contributed to the Aam Aadmi Party’s success in the Delhi polls, is set to take the message of good governance to his home state, Bihar. He is convinced that an electoral battle, led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD’s) Tejashwi Yadav, against the ruling coalition would be ineffectual at a time when efficient governance has become a big issue. Sources said several RJD legislators were upset with Yadav, and could jump ship if they were assured ticket from the constituencies they were representing. In a separate development, socialist leader Sharad Yadav held a meeting with some smaller allies of the RJD in Patna on Friday. The RJD and Congress, which are allies, were not in the meeting.
Election battle II
Some regional parties are said to be inspired by the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) successful electoral strategy in Delhi. In the just-concluded polls in Delhi, AAP avoided commenting on contentious issues, including Shaheen Bagh, and campaigned on the issue of efficient governance. After this year’s Assembly polls in Bihar, elections are scheduled in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry by April-May next year. In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has reshaped its outreach to the electorate and will launch an awareness campaign in March. The campaign will borrow tips from the AAP’s campaign and focus on governance rather than the new citizenship law. Incidentally, Kishor is the election strategist for both the TMC as well as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), will face contradictions because they are likely to strike an alliance in West Bengal but contest each other in Kerala.