The Congress High Command has reportedly finalized a four-pronged strategy to seize power in Himachal Pradesh.
First, AICC Secretary and Party Himachal Affairs Officer Rajiv Shukla was strictly told to carry out the plan after urging faction leaders to work in tandem and bury their hatchet to oust the BJP of Himachal.
Second, the high command expects all senior leaders to focus on the failures and anti-people policies of the BJP government that must be exposed to defeat the ruling party. Third, a victory in Himachal will create an impact at the national level. Therefore, the high command wants every leader who gets a party ticket to go kill to win their seat, which will matter in the formation of the government by Congress.
Finally, the high command realizes that due to the chances of Congress victory and the infighting within the BJP, several leaders are joining the party which has demoralized the saffron party. Congress leaders should only welcome leaders who can become an asset to the organization. Rajiv Shukla confirmed that he was seriously working on the execution of the action plan.
He says three senior leaders – state president Pratibha Singh, PLC leader Mukesh Agnihotri and campaign committee chairman Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu – have been told to hold as many rallies together as possible to give the impression of be united, as this will also energize the cadres and leaders of the party. He believes that the top priority should be to dethrone the BJP government, which is possible because the voters have already made up their minds. The question of the chief ministerial candidate will only arise when the party wins the assembly elections, he added.
Priyanka Gandhi’s strict guidelines to senior leaders at the recent meeting in Delhi could benefit the party in the state, political observers say. She made it clear that all faction leaders must vent their differences and control the tendency towards self-projection, as this could prove counterproductive.
Rajiv Shukla keeps Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka regularly updated. Therefore, the high command is well aware of the activities of senior leaders who are supposed to project the BJP as a faction-dominated party, which is why several leaders are abandoning it. Analysts say Congress paid a heavy price in the 2017 assembly elections and one of the overriding reasons was the open confrontation between faction leaders that needs to be curtailed in time.
According to the indications, Sukhu has changed his old track and is trying hard to erase the old impression which is related to his open confrontation with six times CM, late Virbhadra Singh. Now Sukhu and the late CM’s wife, Pratibha Singh, show no signs of an old rivalry that could prove beneficial for the party. CLP leader Agnihotri is considered a staunch Hollylodge loyalist, which is why he works wholeheartedly and sincerely with the state party chairman.
Experts say it may not be a big deal to prepare an effective toll against the state government, as there are plenty of documents available, including soaring commodity prices, the government’s inability to accept the old demand for employee retirement, the failure to meet 2017 election promises, the anger of unemployed young people, job losses in small and medium industries, etc.
Going forward, it will depend on the skill and ability of Congress to exploit these issues in Assembly elections, especially when the BJP is well equipped with vast resources, support from the official state apparatus and committed RSS cadres desperate to retain power.
(Writer is a seasoned journalist)