BENGALURU: Having learnt some harsh lessons from its performance in the recent Assembly election, the Congress in Karnataka is now bettering itself for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Having identified the issues that sabotaged Congress’ prospects in the state polls compelling it to form a post-poll alliance with the JD(S) to form the government, the party is in the process of strengthening its counterstrategies. While the Congress hopes that the anti-incumbency against the Union government led by Narendra Modi will ease its job, the party wants every loophole — that led to its downfall — sealed. Congress is beginning the refurbishment process from the grassroots level.
After a thorough analysis of the results, Congress has pointed to BJP chief Amit Shah’s strategy of Panna Pramukh — a worker for every 33 voters — as one of the key reasons for Congress facing a drawback in the polls.
“Despite providing good governance, we did not do enough to counter BJP’s campaign. We did not counter them as effectively as we should have,” former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had told party workers during a Congress event earlier this month. The statement is now resonating within the Congress. The Congress’ internal assessment has also pointed to “continuous false propaganda on social media by BJP, the polarisation of Coastal and Malnad regions, branding of Siddaramaiah as anti-Hindu, Hindutva push, non-implementation of Sadashiva commission recommendations” as the issues that dented its prospects.
The party is now preparing to counter each of the issues effectively. The launch of Shakti Project — a movement to connect grassroots level workers across booths, blocks, town and districts — is its way of strengthening its presence on the ground. The move is to ensure that connectivity provides for effective countering of negative propaganda. Taking a leaf out of BJP’s Shakti Kendra, Congress intends to assign workers for specific voters ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
While the party managed to get close to 94% consolidation of minority votes in its favour and about 80% Kuruba votes, according to its internal estimates, it lost out on a massive chunk of SCs and STs votes. “The AHINDA (an acronym for Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits) won’t leave the Congress, but this time SC communities were angry with non-implementation of the Justice Sadashiva commission recommendations, while non-SC/ST communities were angered with the government making reservation despite a Supreme Court order,” said a senior Congress leader.
The party is now in damage control mode, but is also banking heavily on the anti-incumbency against the Union government to change the tide in its favour. The fact that the Lok Sabha polls will see agendas different from the ones in Assembly polls, is also giving the party hope that it is in a better position to attack BJP.
Polarisation and Hindutva, the Congress believed, caused the party much damage in coastal Karnataka. “The idea now is to ensure that people who have been misled by the BJP’s false campaign are made to realise the truth,” said a KPCC office-bearer.