oppn parties Gujarat: Has Congress Landed Itself in a Soup?

News Snippets

  • Rahul Gandhi says the NDA government kept Chidambaram in jail for so many days in order to take revenge
  • Kohli reclaims the top spot in ICC rankings from Steve Smith
  • Cabinet clears the Citizenship Bill. It will be placed in the Lok Sabha in a day or two
  • Hindu Jagran Manch members clash with the police in Kolkata after being refused permission to take out a rally
  • West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar says important files were sent late to him and his delay in signing them draws criticism from the TMC. It also brings the state assembly to a halt
  • 92,000 BSNL & MTNL employees apply for early retirement taking advantage of the new government offer. It will result in an annual savings of Rs 8.700 cr for the merged entity
  • Dengue deaths multiply in Kolkata even as the CM, Mamata Banerjee, asks the opposition not to politicize the matter
  • Government orders inquiry into the breach of security at Priyanka Vadra's house
  • Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian helps Nasa find the pieces of Vikram lander on the Moon's surface
  • New Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray says his administration will take back cases against Dalits and activists in the Bhima Koregaon case
  • Dhawan calls his dismissal "nonsense"
  • Rajeev Dhawan, who represented Muslim parties in the Ayodhya case, dismissed and not taken on board for the review petition
  • ATM card skimming fraud in Kolkata is found to be deeper than previously thought, with more than 5o complaints already recieved
  • Indian warships chased away a Chines vessel found to engage in suspicious activity near the Andaman islands
  • Government asks e-pharmacies to stop selling medicines without licence, which means they will have to shut shop as nither the Central nor the state governments can issue licences to such entities as of now
Google co-founders step aside from the parent company Alphabet Inc. Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, takes over
oppn parties
Gujarat: Has Congress Landed Itself in a Soup?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-11-21 18:22:35

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Is the Congress party’s so-called social engineering going awry in Gujarat? Has the party, once again, made more enemies than friends in its bid to unseat the BJP? Will it make it a free run for the BJP instead of the hopes of a tight finish? These questions come to the mind even as the party’s pact with Hardik Patel seems to have ended even before it began. In the process, the party has weakened Patel’s group PAAS. It has also alienated a large number of voters from the community who feel that the Congress, despite showing a willingness to heed their demands, acted like all other parties when it came to the crunch.

As for Hardik Patel, it seems he was trying to bite more than he could chew. Asking for 12 seats in a seat sharing agreement was pushing too hard on the Congress as it had other Dalit and OBC groups to accommodate. Perhaps Patel was being overambitious. There is no doubt that the Patels form an influential group of voters. But on their own, they can hardly influence the outcome of the elections. At best, they can swing half a dozen seats. The Congress knows this and is hence unwilling to give them more. But the Congress also knows that Patels plus OBC plus Dalits added to its loyal vote bank can swing a comfortable number of seats for it to spring an upset. Hence it was willing to accommodate Patel to an extent. But it seems Congress was talking in English and Patel was listening in Gujarati. There can be no other explanation for the pact being still-born.

The Congress has landed itself in a soup. Already, Dalit, OBC and other local groups it was trying to win over were angry with the party for giving a long rope to the Patels. Now with Patels also angry, the party has the unenviable task of trying to placate each of them and balancing it with the aspirations of its own local leaders. Congress leaders in the state, although willing to shake any hand if it helps them win power, also want to protect their own fiefdoms. For they know that elections come and go but assiduously built fiefdoms cannot be reconstructed if taken over by local groups. Lower rung local satraps will resent if allies are given seats in their area.

In trying to sort this out, Rahul Gandhi will have a baptism by fire if he is made Congress president before the Gujarat elections. For, it seems that in its haste to ally with all supposed anti-BJP groups in its social engineering drive, the Congress has lost track of the software.