The CPM on Thursday said the Congress lost the electoral battle in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan because it chose to pander to Hindutva sentiments instead of putting up an ideological alternative to it.
“The basic failure of the Congress has been its inability to confront this reality (Hindutva consolidation that has created an ‘over-arching pan-Hindu identity’),” the CPM said in an editorial in its party organ People’s Democracy.
Referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement that “the battle of ideology will continue” in response to the election results, the CPM asked: “Where has there been an ideological battle waged by the Congress against Hindutva?"
Instead of working out an ideological platform and a political narrative which can take on “this Hindutva ideological domination”, there has been a pandering to Hindutva sentiments, the CPM claimed.
“The chief practitioner of this soft Hindutva has been none other than Kamal Nath, the PCC chief… who led the Congress’s electoral fight in Madhya Pradesh. It is Kamal Nath, who has been continuously imitating the Hindutva plank and even sought to outcompete the RSS-BJP in patronising chauvinist babas and swamis,” the editorial said.
“Kamal Nath had called for the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa in all Congress offices on the day the foundation of the Ram temple was laid at Ayodhya in August 2019. More recently, he presided over the ‘merger’ of the Bajrang Sena with the Congress, an organisation whose leader proclaimed the need for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra. In a state where the RSS has been working systematically in all areas and sections of society to spread the Hindutva ideology, the stance adopted by the Congress has only further strengthened the hold of Hindutva on substantial sections of the people.”
The editorial does not absolve outgoing Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel either, underscoring that “as a result of this approach, both in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the RSS and other Hindutva outfits had a free run in communalising sections of society and targeting minorities”.
Apart from indulging in soft Hindutva, the Congress, according to the CPM, also lost because of its decision to go it alone in the three Hindi belt states. “The Congress approach to go it alone in these states has also proved to be shortsighted. While the main fight was between the BJP and the Congress, the refusal of the Congress to have electoral adjustments with parties like the Samajwadi Party in Madhya Pradesh and other smaller players in these states prevented the rallying of all the anti-BJP forces.”
Still, pointing to the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and 2019 when the Congress, which had won these three states in the Assembly elections, lost the general elections a few months later, the CPM said: “If the Congress and other major Opposition parties draw the right lessons from this defeat and take appropriate measures to project an alternative political, ideological and economic narrative alongside an effective pooling of the anti-BJP votes, the battle for 2024 will be truly joined.”