By A K Sahoo
Bhubaneswar, May 16: The Congress party’s crushing defeat in Karnataka has not hit very hard but also dealt a severe blow to its president Rahul Gandhi, who was hoping to use an electoral victory to provide him with a springboard to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election.
On the other hand, the results are quite encouraging as the BJP, which was a little bit concerned after some reversals in Lok Sabha bypolls in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. With the party emerging as the single largest party in Karnataka, is all set to reinvigorate saffron party units in the poll-bound states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The elections in these three states, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, will be another major test for Mr Gandhi.
The victory in Karnataka also means lot of the BJP cadres in Odisha who will now be doubly spirited to taken on the BJD. With the party already catapulting itself to number two slot in state politics in the panchayat polls in 2017, – it is now poised to deal a big knock to the BJD.
And, if it executes its strategies quite perfectly as it has been doing in other states under the charismatic leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, – one may not be surprised if the party coming closer to the magic number of 74 or even grabbing it in 2019.
However, the saffron party leaders and strategists in Odisha must not forget that the situation is here quite opposite than that of Karnatka. The BJD here has already developed a well-oiled social engineering mechanism to reach to the voters with its messages and propaganda. The BJP, though in possession of the same mechanism, has to scale up its efforts to match that of the BJD’s.
The people of Karnataka believed Prime Minister Modi’s words on development and good governance. But in Odisha, admitted or not, – majority of people still believe chief minister Naveen Patnaik, has been working delivering on these to two fronts.
Congress in Odisha has a lot to learn from the Karnataka failures. It must accept that the results have indicated yet again that Rahul Gandhi might have come a long way, but he is still no match for the Prime Minister in national politics. Mr Modi had held 21 rallies in Karnataka, while Mr Gandhi held 38 rallies.
The national political map looks grim for the Congress as the party is in power only in tow states — Punjab and Mizoram — and the Union territory of Puducherry.
In this scenario, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee has to think up if it would to be wise enough to heavily bank on Mr Rahul Gandhi’s image to fight 2019 elections or rely on the images and best efforts of provincial leaders.