By KUSHAL JEENA

The Congress party that was till recently being termed as a party with no future is all set to recover its lost glory as it has a clear edge over its rivals in Punjab and Uttarakhand and appears better placed in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Manipur where elections to the state assemblies will be held early next year.

The electoral performances of India’s grand old party in the recently concluded by elections where it routed the ruling BJP by winning all three assembly and one Parliamentary constituency, has brought the party back into reckoning. The relentless fight by Congress general secretary in Uttar Pradesh has won over the hearts of people particularly hailing from Dalit and Brahmin communities.

The fact was evident from the crowd that gathered in two rallies she addressed in Gorakhpur, the home constituency of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Banaras, the Parliamentary segment that Prime Minister currently represents in the parliament. The fresh energy that brother-sister duo has been enthusing into the party workers has rattled the right-wing ultra Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party as the popularity graph of the party and its ‘iconic’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi has displayed a sharp decline in the recent party. The party, the government of the day and its supreme leader all have failed to meet all challenges confronting the country including the Corona pandemic and on other fronts.

The chief ministers in BJP’s governments in the poll-bound states have been facing stiff resistance not only from the party workers but also from the people because they have not been able to explain the common citizens as to why steep price rise has been taking place and why the government had mess of the country’s economy that would take years together to bring back to order. In some states the situation has come to such a pass that BJP ministers as well as elected representatives are not being allowed even to enter into villages. In an unprecedented incident one of the Cabinet ministers of BJP government in Uttarakhand Ganesh Joshi was not only hooted but also abused openly at a gathering in Dehradun by none other than the party workers. Such incidents are clear signals for the BJP that it should read the writing on the wall.

In Uttarakhand, the Congress has a clear edge over its arch rival BJP despite the presence of entrant Aam Aadami Party and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, a local outfit that has a very limited influence in the picturesque Himalayan state simply because that all the efforts of the ruling party to overcome a very strong anti-incumbency have failed. The state BJP as well as its high command at the centre seem to have reconciled to the fact that they are on the way out in the hilly state where no party has regained power since its inception in 2000.

A frustrated BJP tried to play its trump card of Hindu-Muslim divide as the union home minister while addressing a meeting in the state leveled an allegation targeting Congress party’s chief ministerial candidate Harish Rawat saying he declared Friday as holiday to enable Muslims to perform Namaz. This gimmick failed to make any impact in the state that is described as a holy state. Rawat without losing any chance jumped in demanding the home minister and his government in the state to produce the administrative notification that declares Friday as a holiday.

Besides, there are other key factors that add to the kitty of the Congress party taking it ahead of all in the upcoming state elections. They include balance between all three regions of the state mainly, Kumauni, Garhwali and Terai regions, farmers’ agitation against three contentious farm sector bills, the work done by previous Congress government led by Rawat and a poll strategy that strikes caste balance between two major Hindu communities that rules the state; the majority Thakurs and Brahmins followed by Dalit and minority communities.

Keeping in view the proper representation of all castes and communities, the Uttarakhand Congress formulated an electoral strategy that takes all on board like by projecting its beleaguered and most popular leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat who is a Kumauni Thakur as its chief ministerial candidate, anointing Ganesh Godiyal, a Brahmin from Garhwal as head of the state party and bringing back Yashpal Arya , a senior and prominent Dalit leader of Terai region is all set to bring back dalit votes in the Terai region where they have a sizeable presence.

After Arya crossed over to BJP a few years back, this vote had gone to BJP. As far as other two key players; minorities and farmers they are undoubtedly vote for Congress because Muslims in India by and large never vote for the BJP because of its communal agenda and peasants who are influential present the Terai would go with the Congress as it had extended full support to the agitation against farm bills. The despair that has been prevailing in BJP in Uttarakhand has not only demoralized the party leaders but the workers also as they have no explanation about the reasons behind effecting change of guard in the tiny poor state not once but thrice.

It is also strange that the BJP that boasts of declaring its face of the elections first of all, has not been able to do so in Uttarakhand and that has led party leaders and workers who are in dark on this and even the state chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has no idea as to who would head the government in case party returns to power for second consecutive term that seems elusive.

In Uttar Pradesh, the present BJP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is working hard to recover high rate of anti-incumbency that came to the fore during spread of Corona pandemic as administrative machinery of the state proved utter failure in providing even basic health facilities to its citizens who lost their lives due to lack of oxygen. The pictures of dead bodies thrown in river Ganges and overcrowded crematorium and failure in other fronts have marred the electoral prospects of the party in the forthcoming state elections.

In fact Yogi is currently fighting a dual battle for his survival. He is not only facing a strong offensive from within the party, his condition has weaken particularly after opposition parties including Samajwadi Party and Congress upped their ante against Yogi and his government in the aftermath of brutality and murders of girls from Dalit community. The offensive that Priyanka Gandhi launched to protect Dalits from upper caste and killings of people of Brahmin community in the name of protecting law and order has brought bad name to the BJP government. The party and its chief minister are now banking on communal cards that seem not yielding electoral benefits as people are more hit by steep price rise and skyrocketing prices of cooking gas, petrol and diesel.

In Punjab, Congress is all set to storm back to power for the reasons that farmers are supporting Congress as they had done in the local bodies elections that were held in the first quarter of this year in which BJP was literally wiped out and Akalis stood second. The former chief minister Amrinder Singh is not being seen as a spoiler simply because he has sided with the BJP since he was shunted out and left the Congress to float his new regional outfit. The master stroke that Congress had played by appointing Charanjeet Singh Chinni, a Dalit as new chief minister of the state will pay back big dividends to the party as Dalits in the state that has a sizeable presence of 32 percent that voted for AAP in the previous elections enabling the new player to mark its presence in the state assembly and Parliament. With the elevation of Chinni as head of the government has brought Dalit community back to Congress folds.

In Goa, where BJP formed the government by engineering a split in the Congress party that had emerged as the largest party in the state assembly, it now seems at the receiving end because people are not buying BJP’s idea of dividing the calm state of Goa into two entities. Besides, there exists a strong anti incumbency wave against the BJP government there.

The people of Goa have rejected the very divisive idea of the BJP and their rejection will have its influential impact in the upcoming elections to the state that goes to poll in March. The Congress in its campaign train has been stressing on defending the culture of Goa and its wonderful atmosphere that it says the BJP is trying to destroy by imposing the idea of division of the state.

“We are the political party that represents a united Goa, a prosperous Goa. We are a political party that represents the idea that Goa can love each other, and can work with each other. They (BJP) are the political party that represents that Goa has to be divided. That Goans have to disrespect each other. That Goans cannot share a future together,” said Rahul Gandhi while on a poll campaign trail.

With disagreement brewing up between the ruling allies months ahead of the elections to the 60-seat Manipur assembly the ruling BJP is facing tough task to regain power in the state as growing discontent against the current chief minister Biren Singh by the party legislators is expected to turned out in a full-scale group war that could upset the party’s apple cart in the coming state elections.There are resentment among tribal legislators and demands from BJP allies for more portfolios in the state cabinet. The MLAs of BJP’s ally, the NPP (National People’s Party) seem to be unhappy with the unilateral functioning of chief minister Singh. Manipur is among the six BJP ruled states that will go to Assembly elections next year.