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Will Dissent in Congress Cost 2024 Lok Sabha Elections?

© AP Photo / Mahesh Kumar A.Indian Congress members and supporters celebrate after India's Union Cabinet approved the creation of a new state “Telangana” in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
Indian Congress members and supporters celebrate after India's Union Cabinet approved the creation of a new state “Telangana” in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. - Sputnik India, 1920, 01.05.2024
As India is holding Lok Sabha parliamentary elections, the main opposition party is continuously facing setbacks — with some key members leaving the party, expressing dissent over various issues.
India’s main opposition Congress Party is leading a newly-formed alliance named Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A.), bringing together various national parties as well as regional parties.
The alliance was formed to collectively contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But despite several meetings, the members of the alliance could not reach consensus over seat-sharing states like West Bengal, which elects 42 Lok Sabha members.
Soon after the formation of the alliance, many Congress members expressed dissent over inclusion the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and others.
Congress, which led the colonial liberation struggle and formed the first post-independence government, suffered a recent setback when Arvinder Singh Lovely, the party's Delhi unit president, resigned from the post expressing dissent over the alliance with AAP in the national capital.
In his resignation statement, Lovely said his going reflected the pain of Congress workers saddened by the fact that the “ideals they had been fighting for during the last seven to eight years” were being compromised.
But that was not the first setback for Congress. Earlier this month Tajinder Singh Bittu, a close aide of the party's general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary, resigned from party’s primary membership and joined the BJP.
Prior to that, Gourav Vallabh who was one of the prominent spokespersons of Congress resigned from the party saying that it had become “directionless”.
Senior party member Anand Sharma also expressed displeasure over Rahul Gandhi’s continuous demand for a nationwide caste census.

Reasons for Dissent in Congress

Political expert Vinod Kumar Shukla told Sputnik India that the obvious reasons for dissent within Congress are that party is defocussed and ignores its own members despite being out of power for a decade.

“A lot of politicians who have resigned from Congress have said that the party has become directionless. They haven’t said this for the sake of citing any reason behind their resignation," Shukla explained. "The party is not able to raise any issue effectively from last few years.”

He said the issues raised by Congress are rather academic not in the public interest — and in fact are backfiring on the party.
“They are talking about saving the Constitution," Shukla noted. "People of the country are educated enough to understand that no political party can change the Constitution completely. The general public won’t get influenced with such issues.”
The pundit said the long-established party was making a mistake by raising issue of corruption as "the party lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections because of series of scams which happened when it was in power."
Fellow political expert Prem Kumar disagreed with Shukla, saying he did not see any dissent in the party — and those who have left are “opportunist”.

“I won’t call it dissent. In fact, it is political opportunism," Kumar told Sputnik India. "Lovely, however, has not left the party but expressed displeasure over alliance with AAP — but why now? He could have raised this issue when the seat sharing was being done. He resigned expressing dissent over alliance with AAP after the party finalised the candidates in Delhi.”

He pointed out that the way Lovely stepped down from his post and is taking up the issue in public compels the party to take disciplinary action against him.
“When any alliance is formed, there are differences amongst its members but what is important is the Lok Sabha elections," Kumar said. "Lovely should have understood that the primary objective of the alliance is to defeat BJP and being a Congress man he should have worked for the collective objective.”

Will It Impact Congress’ Poll Prospects? Experts Divided

When asked about the impact of dissent and resignations on Congress’ electoral prospects, the political experts had different views. Shukla said that the grand old party is fighting a lost battle, while Kumar stated that candidates switching parties is a regular phenomenon and would not impact on the chances of a Congress victory.

“Before any elections, be it state assembly or Lok Sabha, members from one party switch to other," Jumar said. "Therefore, if a few members of Congress have crossed over to BJP it doesn’t means that the party is becoming weak or there will be any impact in its campaign.”

Moreover, he said, the common thing is that members of opposition switching to ruling party but if you see this time a lot of members from ruling BJP have crossed over to Congress and other opposition parties in various states which means that the real dissent is in the BJP not in the Congress.
But Shukla contradicted Kumar, saying that Congress is already fighting a lost battle since the alliance includes political parties with which it has ideological differences.

“If you see, Congress had to include Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP in the alliance despite the fact that it is the same Kejriwal who contested the Delhi state assembly elections, accusing former Delhi state chief and Congress politician Sheila Dikshit and various former federal ministers of corruption,” Shukla stated.

He added that Congress had similarly raised the issue of a liquor scam, but was now supporting Kejriwal on the same issue — indicating that the alliance was based on politics of convenience.
“This clearly reflects that Congress is just desperate to defeat BJP and return to power even if it gets support from those who once levelled allegations against its own leaders,” Shukla concluded.
Leaders from the opposition INDIA alliance raise their hands together in a show of unity during a protest rally against the suspension of more than 140 lawmakers from parliament, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 04.04.2024
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