Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are three important states for the Congress, as they form perhaps the last stretch across northern India where the party is of significance. However, barring one or two odd decisions, what we see in the recent organizational shake-up in these three states is an attempt to rehash and repackage more of the same.
The way responsibilities have been distributed also indicates that there is some sort of power sharing between Sonia Gandhi and her children: the changes of Haryana and Himachal show a Sonia touch while Punjab seems to be under the control of Rahul Gandhi.
This raises more questions than answers, and also makes one wonder – who’s running the party exactly?
Punjab: challenges galore for Amarinder Raja Warring
When you look at what is happening with the unity of Punjab, you understand why the Congress is imploding at the national level.
The appointment of Amarinder Raja Warring as head of the state unit brought more problems than those that were settled with the departure of Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The Congress, which had attempted to project a rainbow coalition of leadership with Charanjit Singh Channi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni as a triumvirate to reclaim Punjab, has apparently returned to its familiar’jatwaad’ political formula by proposing a Brar at the head of the state unit.
However, the party’s Punjab unit is riddled with factions. With several great leaders like Pratap Singh Bajwa, Bharat Ashu, Manpreet Badal (separate cousin of Sukhbir Singh Badal) and Ravneet Singh Bittu, who are rumored to switch sides, the number of interests to weigh may become too much. burden.
Dance skills apartwhat works in Warring’s favor is his connection to the base, thanks to his NSUI Days and Youth Congress of yesteryear. This may allow him to seek a clean break with the past, if the party so desires, and also shows the Rahul-Priyanka touch in his nomination.
However, the public estrangement and humiliation of Sunil Jakhar, by far the biggest party leader in the state, is something he would not have wanted, even if for disciplinary purposes.
As this author has repeatedly said, Congress can bounce back in depth, but only if it wants to. If he keeps chasing ghosts and thinks the same old ‘jatwaad’ politics will work for this instead of starting from scratch and building a socially cohesive voter base and presenting a positive narrative, a number of reshuffles are unnecessary.
Haryana: A threat of alienation from SC voters
The errors of Punjab are also seen in parts of Haryana. By the time the next Assembly election is in 2024, Congress would have been out of power in the state for a decade.
Despite a fierce fight he fought in 2019 under Jat’s greatest leader, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, he was unable to come of age. By contrast, Manohar Lal Khattar, a non-Jat chief minister, was able to cobble together the numbers, gaining the support of Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta party.
Given that Hooda has failed in two successive elections, the signal he is apparently sending is that someone who has failed twice may be rewarded with authority instead of giving someone else a chance.
Udai Bhan, who was appointed as the Haryana unit chief, is seen as close to Hooda. Considering the trust placed in Hooda and the Gandhi family’s history with Haryana, this can be seen as a gesture from Sonia Gandhi. It can also be seen as an opening to the “G-23”, which Hooda is also a part of.
But at what cost ?
For many Congress supporters, it is worrying that Congress has chosen to undermine Haryana’s top Schedule Caste (SC) leader, Kumari Selja, and replace her with a man believed to be firmly on the Hooda side. , just to end the factional infighting.
No one can guess what authority former Chief Minister Hooda retains, given that there are four presidents serving on the same issue.
Given the BJP’s track record of attracting large numbers of votes from non-Jat communities, the threat of Udai Bhan’s nomination backfires on voters. As it is, the memories of Mirchpur caste riots who rocked the state in 2010 remain deep in the minds of the state’s SCs, and any such move would be seen as an attempt to marginalize them.
This is critical, especially when the party was able to significantly increase its vote share and seats in 2019 Screw 2014 on the back of increasing SC vote share in the state. With 22% of the votesDalit voters are the second largest group in the state, with only the Jats ahead of them at 29%.
Himachal Pradesh – An Interesting Experience That May Backfire
Himachal Pradesh has seen the return of the old guard, with Pratibha Singh, the wife of top Congress leader Raja Virbhadra Singh – and herself from the Keonthal royal family – being loaded in the state.
His win in the Mandi polls was seen as a result of the outpouring of sympathy following the death of Virbhadra Singh. This analysis, however, ignores that she had also won the seat in the past – in 2013 in the Lok Sabha indirect vote, replacing Virbhadra who had won the Vidhan Sabha election the previous year.
Moreover, Pratibha Singh’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections has raised alarm bells for the BJP, given that it is the constituency of incumbent Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
Mandi had voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in 2018, and that is certainly not a good sign for them, given the region’s past affiliation with Congress.
Given these factors, the appointment of Pratibha Singh indicates a distinct possibility that the Congress is trying to tap into Virbhadra’s legacy to reclaim its strength in the upper Himachal.
Granted, Congress also played quite credibly in the 2017 election, managing to keep its share of the vote intact. Given their traditional base being Upper Himachal, the Congress had in fact won seats in Hamirpurseen as a stronghold of the BJP, indicating the potential for growth in other areas as well.
However, factionalism remains a challenge for the party here as well. Although Pratibha Singh may command respect, a bigger role for his son in the scheme of things could backfire.
Vikramaditya Singh, Virbhadra’s son and currently MP for rural Shimla, may well have a bigger role, although it could cause a lot of heartburn for the party as a whole, given his rather checkerboard image on the Corruption front. It can also cause a lot of heartburn in Kangra, where Congress stalwarts may feel left out and seek to rebel.
Additionally, there are multiple factions within the state unit, and getting them together in time for the elections can be a challenge. people like Kaul Singh Thakur and Anand Sharma are part of the G-23, and while they might be seen as lightweights, they heighten factional challenges. In such a scenario, Pratibha Singh has a difficult task ahead.
The reshuffles that have taken place have raised more questions than they have answered about how the Congress party works and the systemic changes it needs to undertake.
Mixed signals on the Cold War with the G-23 will only further confuse party cadres. An attempt at a clean break was made without any new ideas.
In an attempt to build trust in some leaders, alienation from others and from the social groups within which they draw their strength also remains a danger. Most state unit leaders have the unenviable task of resolving factional fighting in their units. Confused and confused are perhaps the best ways to describe what happened in the past few days.