NEW DELHI: After a series of reverses, the Congress is now going on an overdrive to regain power in Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with the help of its allies.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has already started a high-pitched campaign in the southern states and has also toured Assam, though the party is yet to finalise seat-sharing with allies.
In Tamil Nadu, it is still working with its major partner DMK on a seat-sharing arrangement.
The party is optimistic about its chances in the state as also in Kerala as power switches side there every five years.
The Congress has again joined hands with AIUDF in Assam to wrest back power from the BJP, though it does not have a stalwart like former chief minister Tarun Gogoi who passed away in November last year.
In West Bengal, the Congress and Left parties are yet to have a formal agreement with the Indian Secular Front, a move intended to help win back some of the minority voters who are being wooed by the AIMIM as well the ruling TMC in the fight against a buoyed BJP.
With the Congress now left in power only in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh of its own and in Maharashtra and Jharkhand along with its allies, the grand old party faces the challenge of performing well at the hustings in these polls or run the risk losing its relevance as the principal opposition party.
The fall of its governments in Karnataka in 2019, Madhya Pradesh in 2020 and recently in Puducherry as well as the electoral reverses in Bihar and Delhi have led to growing internal discord in the Congress, especially in the absence of a full-time party chief, and is putting it at a disadvantage in the seat-sharing negotiations with allies, according to observers.
Though the civic poll results in Punjab were encouraging, the defeat in the Gujarat civic polls has come as a dampener.
Assembly polls in five states of Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will begin from March 27.
The group of 23 dissenters within the Congress also went public against the party on Saturday saying it has “weakened” and there is an urgent need to strengthen it.
Party leaders feel that for the grand old party, winning these elections is very crucial as it would give it the much-needed confidence to emerge as a stronger opposition force against the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
It will also boost the Congress’ prospects as it enters the next phase of electoral battles in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in 2022.