The Congress has hit upon what it thinks could be a winning formula for the 2024 General Elections – Dalit + women + OBC votes.
The strategy was firmed up at a meeting called by Rahul Gandhi two weeks ago and attended by Dalit leaders, including former MP Udit Raj. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss how Dalit votes could affect the outcome of the next Lok Sabha elections. At the meeting, it was concluded that since the Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi, were projecting the BJP as a party for rich corporates, the grand old party could move to occupy the alternate space as a party of Backward groups.
The formula is a throwback to 2004 when the Congress coined the winning slogan ‘Congress ka Haath Aam Aadmi ke Saath’. Back then, it was positioned as party that spoke about the issues of the poor and socially marginalised communities, while the BJP’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) trumpeted ‘India Shining’. The Congress campaign clicked and Rahul Gandhi is convinced that it will click again.
At the meeting, Rahul Gandhi reportedly told his party colleagues to push for ‘Congress ka Haath, Pichhdon ke Saath’, hoping that by wooing Dalit and OBC voters, the party can make inroads into politically significant states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. It is also likely to go in for Dalit CMs in states where possible, like it did in Punjab with Charanjit Singh Channi. The Congress has even challenged the BJP asking if the party had ever opted for a Dalit CM.
Hoping for a win in Uttarakhand, the Congress may project a Dalit CM face in the hill state, with Yashpal Arya a likely contender after his homecoming. Speaking to News18, former chief minister Harish Rawat said he is ready to “sacrifice” CM ambitions if it meant that the would have a Dalit CM. “The decision to have a Dalit chief minister in my state is something which can help my party in 2024. And if for the sake of my party’s future, I have to sacrifice, then I am ready to do it. I think it is high time Uttarakhand has a Dalit chief Minister,” he had said.
Another major vote bank the Congress is eyeing are women. Women voters have successfully been wooed by Mamata Banerjee with her ‘Kanyashree’ welfare scheme and by Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP with free bus rides, both winning their respect state elections. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had recently released a manifesto for women in Uttar Pradesh, promising 40% reservation in election tickets.
With its slogan ‘Ladki Hun, Lad Sakti Hun’, the Congress may replicate the campaign in other states as well.