Opinion: Congress should focus on joining hands with the Ambedkar-Owaisi front in Maharashtra

Ahead of the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections, it becomes necessary for Congress to maintain electoral brotherhood with VBA and AIMIM alliance to save secular ideology which they claim to fight for

Opinion: Congress should focus on joining hands with the Ambedkar-Owaisi front in Maharashtra

After Rahul Gandhi made his resignation as Congress President public, the leadership crisis in the party has intensified on the national and state level as well. Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections scheduled later this year, the state Congress President position is also ‘leaderless’.

However, during his visit to Mumbai on July 4, 2019, for a hearing in a defamation case, Rahul Gandhi clarified that he will continue to work for the Congress and his “ideological fight” with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be 10 times vigour. 

At the state level in Maharashtra, after former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan resigned due to party’s massive loss in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the search for a state President is underway. The political speculations suggest that senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat will be appointed for the state President position. 

However, along with the Congress’ leadership crisis, the party needs to focus on correcting its mistakes. Earlier, the Indian National Congress (INC) had refrained from forming alliances with the regional parties in most states which led to their defeat in the recently concluded LS polls.

Lok Sabha Elections 2019

In Maharashtra, the BJP and Shiv Sena alliance had a major victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections while Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance managed to attain only five seats combined.

Of the five Lok Sabha seats won by the ‘grand alliance’ in Maharashtra, Congress’ contribution stands only at one seat while NCP managed to register their win in four LS constituencies. For a new political front in the state, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) performed well in the 2019 LS polls and managed to win from Aurangabad LS constituency.

The Prakash Ambedkar and Asaduddin Owaisi front played a decisive role in defeating the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra including Nanded, Solapur, Akola, Osmanabad and others.

Having said that, Congress and NCP had earlier rejected to join hands with the Ambedkar-Owaisi front after they demanded 24 LS seats out of 48 in Maharashtra. 

Moreover, the NCP was not unwilling to ally with the Owaisi-Ambedkar front but the Congress had made it clear that there can be no alliance with AIMIM due to ‘ideological differences’ which led to the destruction of the idea of ‘grand alliance’ in the state. 

Dalit-Muslim Representation

In the 2019 LS polls, the Ambedkar-Owaisi front performed well which indicates that the voters (or at least the secular votes in the state) were looking for an alternative. Congress was unable to attract the anti-BJP votes in the election and the VBA benefited from the same. 

Now that India has become a majoritarian democracy, it is of grave importance that major opposition parties at the national level understand the need to have Dalit and Muslim representation in the electoral space. 

Given Congress’ history, the party dominated in centre and state governments for a long period and with the rise of regional parties across India, the one-party domination came to an end. It would not be unfair to say that after 2019 LS polls the BJP has defeated Congress in its own game which projects a strong need for Congress to support the smaller alliances in order to defeat the “non-secular forces”. 

In order to maintain a high moral ground, Congress should back the regional parties such as VBA and AIMIM who strongly represent the voice of the minorities and raises concerns issues related to these communities. VBA is a front which combines the deprived classes among the non-Savarnas.  

Congress and Rahul Gandhi have always maintained that their ultimate political rival, in respect to ideology and power politics, is the BJP and RSS. Keeping the same in mind, Congress should hold meetings with the top leaders in the VBA-AIMIM alliance in order to save the secular fabric that Gandhi claims to oppose. 

Note: This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Mumbai Live neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.