OPINION: Congress should take these 3 lessons from Maharashtra-Haryana elections

(Anita Katyal)
New Delhi. Haryana assembly election results 2019 have arrived. They have brought some lessons for the Congress. Before October 21, everyone was looking forward to the possibility that under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, BJP would do a clean sweep in Haryana and would get an absolute majority. There was no prospect for the Congress here till a month ago. These election results are enough for the Congress to introspect.

The BJP was sure of an absolute majority in the Haryana Assembly elections. The BJP had claimed that the party would get 75 seats in Haryana with 90 assembly seats. Whereas Congress did not have any electoral strategy in Haryana. Congress was divided here. The Congress had not even appointed an election team till a few weeks before the elections.

On the other hand, there was talk about Manohar Lal Khattar that he is an ordinary person and he is such a person who ran a clean government in the state. Not only in the field of government functioning, Khattar did a better job of bringing non-Jat voters to the BJP’s favor in Haryana.

Dushyant Chautala also emerged
However, when the results of the Haryana elections started coming, the Congress itself did not expect that the party would make such a shocking leap in such a short time. In these elections, INLD chief Omprakash Chautala’s grandson Dushyant Chautala along with his Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) emerged as the kingmaker. Dushyant Chautala got the inclination of both BJP and Congress parties. Because it was believed that Dushyant Chautala has the key to form the next government in Haryana.

In the Haryana assembly elections, the Congress got maximum support from the Jat community. There was anger and resentment among the Jat community regarding the ruling BJP. This is believed to be due to their disregard. Manohar Lal Khattar’s government did not live up to its promise of giving quota to Jats. At the same time, due to the ongoing recession in the current era, the Congress got the support of the Jats. JJP also got similar support.

importance of local leaders
However, the Congress can take three lessons from the assembly election results of Maharashtra and Haryana. The first thing is the importance of local leaders. The elections in both the states have once again established the importance of local leaders. These local leaders did well in the elections on their own, not relying on the central leadership. In Maharashtra, the Congress was invisible and leaderless. Whereas the state unit of Maharashtra weakened due to factionalism.

It was good to remove Tanwar and give the responsibility to Shailja.
In Haryana, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had the advantage of being from the Jat community. While Bhupinder Singh Hooda was successful in getting the support of the Jat community, the party also got the benefit of making Kumari Selja the Haryana Congress President before the elections. Congress was successful in getting non-Jat votes through Kumari Selja. Through him, the Congress also reached the voters of the Scheduled Castes.

The second lesson for the Congress in these elections pertains to quick decision-making. The party should learn to take quick decisions on issues. It is no secret that Ashok Tanwar should have been removed from the post of state party president earlier and Kumari Selja should have been given this post.

Tanwar was not appropriate in this case. Tanwar was appointed by the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi. But there was a protest in the state unit against this decision. It was ignored by the party. Tanwar was removed from the post three weeks before the elections. During this, Hooda had also warned to leave the party. However, the party leaders took the right decision and gave time to the new team to make plans and strategies. Congress is now exploring possibilities to form the government in Haryana.

Will have to decide about leadership
The third important lesson for the Congress in these elections is about party leadership. A few months back, the party had chosen Sonia Gandhi as its interim president. But in these elections, not a single election campaign or rally was done towards Sonia Gandhi. Former President Rahul Gandhi held only two rallies in Haryana. Most of the party’s top leaders stayed away from the election campaign. These campaigns were handled by the leaders of the states. Its final result only confirms that Rahul Gandhi has not made any significant contribution to the party’s favor in Haryana.
(The author is a senior journalist. These are his personal views)

Also read: Haryana Elections 2019: CM Khattar arrives in Delhi to meet the high command, will present the formula to form the government

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