Decode Politics: Five reasons why Congress is sounding LS poll bugle from Nagpur rally | Political Pulse News

    Decode Politics: Five reasons why Congress is sounding LS poll bugle from Nagpur rally | Political Pulse News

    The Congress is all set to kick off its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2024, from its rally to be held in Nagpur in Maharashtra on Thursday, which will mark the party’s139th foundation day.

    The Congress has called its Nagpur rally “Hain Tayyar Hum (We are ready)”. The party says this theme is meant to reaffirm its commitment to fight for protection of democracy in the country.

    The grand public meeting will see the participation of a legion of Congress leaders and activists, including All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, other Congress Working Committee (CWC) members, AICC and Maharashtra party unit office-bearers and the party’s CMs.

    The venue of the rally is located in the Dighori Naka area, which the Congress has dubbed “Bharat Jodo Ground” in a reference to Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

    The second capital of Maharashtra, Nagpur, considered as the country’s geographical centre, lies in the heart of the Vidarbha region.

    Cong’s historical links with Nagpur

    Festive offer

    The Congress’s association with Nagpur goes back before India’s Independence.

    It was at the Congress’s Nagpur Session held in December 1920 that the party under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership gave a clarion call for the launch of the non-cooperation movement against the British.

    This conclave also saw the Congress undertaking significant organisational reforms, deciding to strengthen the AICC with 350 members and constituting a 15-member CWC as its highest decision-making body.

    Following the Independence, the Congress’s Nagpur session held in 1959 saw the election of Indira Gandhi as the AICC president. A CWC member, Indira was then 41 years old, with her name recommended by the outgoing AICC chief U N Dhebar.

    Nagpur had always been the Congress’s bastion. Even during the “Indira Hatao, Desh Bachao” agitation led by socialist icon Jaiprakash Narayan during the Emergency, the Congress retained its turf in Nagpur. From 1980 to 2019, the BJP has been able to win from the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat only thrice – in 1996, 2014 and 2019.

    RSS headquarters

    The RSS is headquartered in Nagpur, where it was founded in 1925 by the city-based doctor Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. The RSS is the ideological fountainhead of the BJP and several other affiliates.

    Senior Maharashtra BJP leader and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, has described the RSS as “the power house of the BJP”.

    The Congress has maintained that it has been engaged in an ideological battle with the BJP-RSS to claim the “idea of India” as envisioned by the Constitution framed by the leading lights of the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.

    Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president and grandson of B R Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar, said: “All like-minded parties have to shed egos and collectively make anti-BJP, anti-RSS a cause. It cannot be restricted to one time fight in the 2024 polls,” charging that “the threat to Constitution is real – it has been the hidden agenda of RSS-BJP”.

    Ambedkar’s Deekshabhoomi

    It was in Nagpur that B R Ambedkar had embraced Buddhism along with lakhs of his followers on Dusshera on October 14, 1956. The historical site has a memorial called Deekshabhoomi.

    The Congress leaders have said that the party has chosen Nagpur for Thursday rally due to an ideological reason as “the city echoes the ideologies of both the RSS and the Constitution’s key architect”. Staking claim over Ambedkar’s legacy, they have raked up their allegations that the ruling Narendra Modi-led BJP has been bent on “changing the Constitution”.

    2024 Lok Sabha polls

    While reckoning the political challenges ahead, the Congress is optimistic of initiating the process of change from Nagpur.

    The Congress leaders say that after Emergency Indira Gandhi had held a rally in Nagpur, which had then paved the way for the party winning all the seats from Vidarbha. They claim that the party’s Thursday rally would similarly herald a “big change” in the country’s politics.

    The state Congress leaders have maintained that the party along with its other Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners – the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction and the Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction – would give the BJP a “tough fight” in the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

    State Congress president Nana Patole said, “We want to send the message that we are are ready for the big fight against the BJP, its corruption and anti-Constitution politics.”

    He alleged that inflation, unemployment and farm distress have been prevailing even as the BJP has been misusing the central agencies and silencing the voice of the Opposition within and outside Parliament.

    “When there is a crisis in the country, it is from the land of Nagpur that the Congress calls Elgar (struggle). Today when the country’s democratic system, Constitution and all the four pillars of democracy are under threat, it is the responsibility of the Congress to keep this system intact,” Patole said.

    The Nagpur rally would also project Rahul’s upcoming Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 called ‘Bharat Nyay Yatra’ – from Manipur in the East to Mumbai in the West – which he will launch on January 14.

    After Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats, Maharashtra with 48 seats would play a crucial role in the Lok Sabha polls.

    In the 1960s Congress was the unchallenged party in Maharashtra. However, its fortunes have since declined, which especially became sharper after 1999 when Congress stalwart Sharad Pawar quit the party to float the NCP.

    In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won only 10 seats with its ally NCP winning 6, the BJP 13 and the Sena 15 seats.

    In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress could win just 1 seat while the NCP won 4 seats. The BJP bagged 23 seats and the then undivided Sena won 18 seats.

    Over the last one-and-half years, both the NCP and the Sena have split, turning the Maharashtra fray more challenging for every contender. The Maratha quota row has also been roiling the state politics. The Congress has managed to remain united despite internal differences. The grad old party is banking on all these factors to regain its lost ground in the state in the 2024 polls.

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