With the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 in mind, the Congress has in its political resolution taken up at its plenary session in Raipur on Saturday emphasised the importance of forging an alliance of “like-minded secular forces” to take on the BJP government at the Centre and said the party should go all out to identify, mobilise and align such parties.
The stress given in the resolution to the importance of bringing like-minded parties together brings to mind the effort made by the Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi in 2004 to form a coalition. The resolution said unity of secular and socialist forces will be the hallmark of the future of the Congress party.
“Congress should go all out to identify, mobilise and align like-minded secular forces. We should include secular regional forces who agree with our ideology,” read the resolution.
In an intriguing use of words, however, the party refrained from using the word 'parties', choosing to refer to them as forces.
It said that there is an urgent need for a united opposition to take on the NDA government on common ideological grounds. It also said that the emergence of any third force will provide advantage to the BJP/NDA, in an apparent reference to efforts to come up with a third front.
Harking back to the UPA years when the Congress led a coalition government at the centre for a decade, party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, in his presidential address, spoke about the party having led an alliance government with like-minded parties between 2004 and 2014. He said the party is ready yet again to forge a “viable alternative by aligning with like-minded parties to defeat the anti-people and undemocratic” BJP government.
Especially in recent days, the possible role of the Congress in forging an opposition alliance has been a topic of intense discussion, fuelled further by remarks made by Kharge and former party chief Rahul Gandhi.
Speaking at a rally in Nagaland recently, Kharge had asserted that a Congress-led alliance will come to power at the Centre in the next Lok Sabha elections. He had stressed on the centrality of the role of the Congress in bringing together the opposition, saying, “We are talking with other parties. Because otherwise democracy and the Constitution will go. Therefore, with every party now and then we are sharing our views on how to win 2024.”
And amidst the talk of opposition unity, Rahul had raised eyebrows with his remarks in an election rally in Meghalaya, where he accused the Trinamool Congress of helping the BJP.
“You know the history of the TMC. You know the violence that takes place in Bengal. You know the scams, the Saradha scam that has taken place. You are aware of their tradition. They came to Goa, spent huge amounts of money in Goa. The idea was to help the BJP. This is exactly the idea in Meghalaya. The TMC’s idea in Meghalaya is to ensure that the BJP is strengthened and wins power,” he said.
The political resolution, meanwhile, also said that the Congress would prepare a Vision Document for 2024, following a largest ever mass contact programme, which will encompass issues of unemployment, eradication of poverty, inflation, women empowerment, job creation, national security.
The resolution said it is quite shocking that the BJP leaders have reached the pinnacle of arrogance by saying that the BJP has no competitors in 2024. “This is a big challenge, not just to the Congress and other parties, but to the democratic ethos of India. Congress welcomes this challenge!”it said.
It said the 2023 Assembly elections to nine states and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are crucial for India’s future. “The choice before our people is crystal clear,” it said, adding that the Congress must redefine political discourse by recapturing the central space in the present polarised polity.
On the issue of ideoligical clarity, it said the ideology is the one with which “our forefathers fought for freedom, laid down their lives, and sustained democracy.”
“The idea of India has been clearly laid down by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that Congress stands for secularism, socialism and federalism,” it said.