From opposing to governing

The Congress has won all the three States in the Hindi belt where Assembly polls were held. Now it will have to deliver. It has to make good the promises it made to the people of the three States. For example, Rahul Gandhi has promised to waive farm loans within ten days of coming to power. That promise has to be fulfilled and the stress it will put on the States’ economies will have to be met. Job creation is the crying need of the youth. This cannot be done overnight but a practicable programme will have to be worked out to provide employment. And all these have to be done while finding a modus vivvendi with a hostile and inimical Centre at least for the next four or five months.
But before all that there is the question of government formation. In Rajasthan there are two contenders for Chief Ministership: the veteran Ashok Gehlot and the younger Sachin Pilot. As party president, Rahul Gandhi will have to decide who will be given the reins of administration, perhaps after ascertaining the opinion of the newly elected legislators. The same problem faces Rahul in Madhya Pradesh where also there are two contenders: The experienced Kamal Nath and the young but more popular among the younger generation, Jyotiraditya Scindia. Both are indispensable for the party and both have to be kept in good humour. And both are ambitious.
In Chhattisgarh the problem is different. There is no ‘contender’ as such. There is no known chief ministerial candidate. Rahul will have to find one from among the MLAs. Chhattisgarh is the State which has given a two-thirds majority to the Congress. The people’s expectations are to be fulfilled. The BJP has been defeated but it remains a strong opposition party. It will fully exploit any weakness of the Congress. The Congress High Command has to keep factional fights in the party under control. It has to maintain a live contact with the people, the electors, so that their mood and expectations can be correctly gauged. After a long time the Congress put up a united fight against the BJP, leaders in each State blending perfectly with one another and conducting the election campaign as a united team. This unity has to be maintained because the BJP will exploit every opportunity it gets to sow seeds of mistrust in the leaders of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi will now have to show his maturity in running a party which is in power in three States of the Hindi belt. He has to be both firm and flexible.

Friday, 14 December, 2018