Gandhinagar: Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during Jan Sankalp Rally, in Gandhinagar, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (PTI) 

What Should Congress Do To Counter BJP? 

The Indian National Congress officially kicked off its campaign for the 2019 general election with the party’s working committee meeting in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf Gujarat on March 12.

Priyanka Gandhi, in her maiden political speech after being appointed general secretary, and her brother and party President Rahul Gandhi, raised the issues of unemployment and rural distress while trying to project the polls as a battle of ideology with the Bharatiya Janata Party. But with 10 weeks to go, does the Congress have a strategy to take on Modi?

The Congress’ plan was to target those voters who have been sidelined and neglected, said Aditi Phadnis, political editor of the Business Standard newspaper. The party is talking about problems that affect the common man, according to her. But the Rafale issue that Rahul Gandhi used to attack the government seems to have lost relevance among ordinary people, she added.

Also read: Six Charts Explain How Balakot Strikes Helped Boost Modi’s Popularity

Madhavan Narayanan, a senior journalist and commentator, said the Congress is talking about the right issues but not loud enough. There seems to be a lack of cohesiveness in the party’s strategy, he said, adding that it seems to be stuck with the same old narrative of the Congress being a party of love and not hatred.

There is a lot of distress that acche din hasn’t arrived and that is what the Congress is trying to bank on.
Madhavan Narayanan, Senior Journalist

Also read: 2019 Elections: Allies-Turned-Foes Turn Allies Again

It’s important for the Congress to stay on the point on issues like unemployment and rural distress in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where it’s in direct competition with the BJP, said Neelanjan Sircar, senior visiting fellow, Centre for Policy Research.

The Congress may not need trump cards like Priyanka Gandhi if they can stay on message and win some votes in these core states, he said.

Watch the full debate here:

Also read: Citizenship Bill: Why Northeast Protests Spell Trouble For BJP