Days after the spectacular win in the Karnataka Assembly elections, the countrys main Opposition party, the Congress, is in high spirits and dreaming of a 2004 repeat in 2024, this time, symbolising a 'Democratic Spring' in India.
For achieving this lofty ambition, Maharashtra will play a crucial role in national politics and government formation in 2024 as the state sends the second highest number of 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha, after Uttar Pradesh's contingent of 80.
In the last four general elections when the Congress had fought in partnership with the ideologically-conducive Nationalist Congress Party, it scored well bagging 24 seats (2004) and improved it to 25 (2009).
In 2014, it was bulldozed by a 'BJP wave' generated by Narendra Modi, who became the Prime Minister that year ending the United Progressive Alliance's 10-year rule at the Centre.
The two parties together got only 6 seats (2014) which came down to just 5 seats (2019), practically overwhelmed by the saffron alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena in both the polls.
However, the situation in 2024 will be drastically different as the original Shiv Sena has severed ties with the BJP and joined the Congress-NCP in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) - and the trio plan to contest unitedly against the BJP and the breakaway Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
The Sena (UBT) is no mean ally with a formidable political track record -- 18 seats (2019), 18 (2014), 11 (2009) and 12 (2004) -- of course, always in partnership with Big Boss BJP.
"The BJP government has totally failed on all fronts -- inflation, unemployment, law and order, communal situation, foreign policy and national security. People are angry and concerned. It's clear that 'communal politics of hate' will not work any more in India," said state Congress working president M.A. Naseem Khan.
"Karnataka has indicated that people have seen through the BJP's 'game plan'. The BJP has no solutions or even the ability to solve problems so it keeps whipping up the communal cauldron at every election. In 2024, people will vote irrespective of the religious frenzy unleashed by the BJP and vote for peace-development-progress," declared state Congress vice-president Ratnakar Mahajan.
"The BJP's attempts to impose a fascist, autocratic, communal regime are sure-shot recipes to destroy India' democracy. Democracy can work only with secularism where all are equal, but these 'Hindutva' forces are directly attacking the secular ethos of the country. Now all parties must sink their ideological differences to save democracy from autocracy," asserted state Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant.
Presently, the MVA trio grapples with multiple challenges -- a hyper-aggressive BJP-Shiv Sena combine, the three partners under attack by various central investigating agencies, and internal rumblings of discontent among them that seems to push them to the brink almost every day.
"All this is a media creation only. Could anyone have ever imagined the MVA before 2019? It happened and survived strongly to save democracy. This time, we are ready to take the fascist-communal forces by the horns and oust them in 2024," said Sawant.
Concurring, Mahajan said that after the Karnataka verdict, the people will not back communal forces that exploit religious sentiments for their short-term political interests, and will willingly support the Congress for the country and its future generations.
Khan said that the BJP has already become desperate in Maharashtra and in the past couple of months, "communal disturbances/riots were created" in Aurangabad, Jalna, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Akola, and Parbhani, which is not going down well with the masses.
"Even in Karnataka, over six months before the May elections, the BJP raked up issues like 'hijaab', 'halaal', cancelled Muslim reservations there, days before the polls it blatantly promoted the bogus film ('The Kerala Story') and at the eleventh hour, the PM himself made appeals in the name of Bajrang Bali. See what happened... The people have unequivocally rejected all those dirty traps and shown the door to the BJP," said Khan.
Other state and central party leaders say that the people are quietly watching the 'systematic decimation' or 'misuse' of various democratic institutions, how central probe agencies are unleashed to terrorise and silence the Opposition parties, toppling democratically elected state governments with the help of money-power and misuse of Constitutional authorities, by the BJP pursuing its hostile saffron agenda that portends a 'dark future for democracy and India'.
Sawant, Mahajan and Khan predict the end of the road for the fake and fraudulent politics of the BJP in 2024, when it could be reduced to a single digit in a progressive state like Maharashtra, which in turn would contribute the lion's share of seats to a potential non-BJP dispensation at the Centre.
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