‘2024 Polls ‘Life and Death’ Issue For Congress’


Antony, a three-time Kerala Chief Minister and the longest-serving Defence Minister, said the aim of the Congress is to ensure that the BJP doesn’t return…reports Asian Lite News

 Veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony on Tuesday termed the upcoming Lok Sabha polls “a life and death issue” for the party.

“The aim of the Congress is to ensure that the BJP doesn’t return… if it doesn’t happen, then our country is gone. Hence, our aim is to recover India, and so this election is a life and death issue for us,” said Antony, who is now leading a retired life in the state capital.

Antony, a three-time Kerala Chief Minister and the longest-serving Defence Minister, has largely withdrawn from public life ever since his son Anil Antony joined the BJP last year.

With Anil Antony fielded by the BJP from the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency, Antony, asked if he would campaign for the Congress candidate there, said: “It all depends on my health condition”.

Tussle in Bihar seat-sharing

The INDIA bloc in Bihar has not been able to resolve its seat-sharing problems delaying the announcement of candidates.

The RJD has announced six candidates so far, and sources have said that it is finalising many more names without consulting others in the bloc.

Sources have also said that the Congress was demanding 10 seats in the state which has led to a disagreement with the RJD. However, Lalu Prasad, on the other hand does not want to repeat his “mistake” of giving 70 seats to the Congress in the 2020 Assembly election. The Congress performed miserably and won only 19 seats.

“There is no dispute between the RJD and Congress party, but the latter is demanding more seats in Bihar and not even explaining the details of the candidates. Without discussing the profiles of candidates, how can seat-sharing be possible? RJD national president Lalu Prasad Yadav is in Delhi and negotiation will take place with the top leadership of Congress,” said Shivanand Tiwari, the national vice president of RJD.

Sources have said that the Congress is eyeing Kishanganj, Supaul, Katihar, Darbhanga, Purnea, Aurangabad, Buxar, Patna Sahib, Begusarai and Sasaram.

The RJD has already announced its candidate, Abhay Kushwaha, from Aurangabad. The party is also likely to give the ticket to Bima Bharti from the Purnea Lok Sabha seat.

Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, the Bahubali leader and four-time MP, has claimed that he will contest Purnea seat at any cost. Pappu Yadav merged his party named Jan Adhikar Party in Congress on March 20 with the aim to contest from Purnea on the ticket of the grand old party. This is an alarm bell for the RJD.

While uploading a post on social media account X, Pappu Yadav said: “I would rather die but not leave Purnea and Congress party.”

Similarly Nikhil Kumar, the former Governor of Kerala and Congress leader has opened a front against RJD as well. He wants to contest the Aurangabad seat.

“It is not a good thing to make a one-sided decision. It is demoralising for the party workers. They should respect the coalition pact,” said Ashitnath Tiwari, spokesperson of Congress in Bihar.

1 MP, 2 MLAs: Congress Faces Do-or-Die Battle in UP

Uttar Pradesh was once considered to be the stronghold of the Congress party as the Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies have always sent Gandhi-family scions to the parliament.

However, Congress has been reduced to just one MP in the outgoing Lok Sabha and two MLAs in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly.

In the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the Congress faces a do-or-die battle in Uttar Pradesh as the party is low on confidence, lacks leadership and also faces a dearth of candidates.

The Congress currently has no representation in the legislative council of Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress secured 6.36 per cent of the votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The biggest setback in these elections was that senior party leader Rahul Gandhi had suffered a defeat in Amethi where union minister Smriti Irani emerged victorious in the last election.

The cadres sunk into the realms of despair and the party’s vote share plummeted to a mere 2.33 per cent in the 2022 UP legislative assembly polls.

Any further decline in the party’s performance in the upcoming elections will result in no representation for the Congress from Uttar Pradesh, a state that has sent nine prime ministers to the Lok Sabha.

The Congress faces the challenge of working out political equations and evaluating winnability as it selects its candidates for 17 out of 80 seats it is contesting in alliance with the Samajwadi Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The foremost challenge for the Congress is not only to defend Rae Bareli but also to increase its tally in Uttar Pradesh.

The party is yet to announce candidates for two key parliamentary (Amethi and Rae Bareli) constituencies. It is not yet known if a member of the Gandhi family will contest these seats.

Sonia Gandhi was the only Congress candidate who won in Uttar Pradesh in 2019. She got 55.78 per cent votes in Rae Bareli. Rahul Gandhi with 43.84 per cent votes lost to Smriti Irani in Amethi five years ago. Irani won with 49.69 per cent votes.

Sonia Gandhi has since taken the Rajya Sabha route to parliament through Rajasthan.

Congress fortunes have been going downhill since 2009 when the party won 21 seats.

It won only two seats in 2014 and one in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Of the 17 seats given to the Congress for the 2024 election, the party had won only six in 2009 — Rae Bareli, Amethi, Kanpur, Maharajganj, Jhansi and Barabanki.

The Congress, so far, has named candidates for three of the six seats – Alok Mishra in Kanpur, Tanuj Punia in Barabanki and Pradeep Jain Aditya in Jhansi.

Initial reports say that Congress candidates in Saharanpur (Imran Masood) and Amroha (Danish Ali) have taken an early lead and with the caste arithmetic favouring them, they could help the Congress increase its tally.

A former UPCC president, who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity, said that the problem is that no one in UP is there to guide the candidates or address their problems.

“The UPCC President Ajay Rai is a candidate himself. Besides, there is no direction to the campaign. All other parties have their campaigns ready but our candidates are groping in the dark,” he said.

With every electoral arithmetic pitted against the grand old party, can Congress do the impossible and revive its tally in an all-important state of the country?

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