The recent two-day Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, held in the Telangana capital Hyderabad on 16 and 17 September, carried profound significance for the party, as it presented a pivotal opportunity for the Congress to reassert its presence in the state.
This gathering, organised in poll-bound Telangana, symbolised the party’s determination to challenge the incumbency of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), who has held office for two consecutive terms.
Party leaders and even political commentators emphasised the strategic importance of the meeting, highlighting the Congress’ aspiration to secure its position in Telangana, a state where the BRS has been in power since 2014.
As the political landscape unfolds in this crucial region, the outcomes of the Telangana Assembly elections are poised to have far-reaching effect on national politics, especially in the lead-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, claimed political analysts.
In this context, the CWC meeting in Telangana takes on special significance, as the Congress seeks to position itself as a formidable contender in the state’s political arena.
The party exuded confidence in winning a resounding favourable mandate in the upcoming elections to the Assemblies in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram.
Meanwhile, the party announced six poll guarantees, including Mahalakshmi and Gruha Jyothi, in the poll-bound state on 17 September.
The CWC felt the party was fully armed and prepared for the forthcoming poll battle.
“We will fulfil their (the people’s) expectations of law and order, freedom, social and economic justice, equality, and equity,” said the committee in a resolution taken up in the meeting.
‘Will restore pride of Telangana’
In a significant move that underscored the Congress’ commitment to Telangana, AICC secretary and Telangana unit in-charge Mansoor Khan asserted: “The Congress will restore the pride of Telangana by dethroning the Chandrashekar Rao-led BRS government in the upcoming Assembly polls.”
Khan told South First: “The important thing is that the party has set a good precedent by holding the CWC meeting outside the national capital. The party’s decision to hold the CWC meeting in Telangana holds a lot of significance in terms of party organisation and the forthcoming Assembly polls.”
He added: “The Gandhi family played a key role in the carving out of Telangana. The party convening the CWC meeting in Hyderabad shows how serious the Congress is about Telangana.”
KCR की सरकार, जो कहती है, वो करती नहीं है।
कांग्रेस पार्टी जो कहती है, करके दिखाती है।
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) September 18, 2023
He further said: “Being in power for two terms, KCR has brought a bad name to Telangana. His government has indulged in corruption and broken promises made to the people of the state. The message from the high command is very clear: The party should highlight the failures of KCR’s governance and ensure that its six guarantees reach every last home in the state.”
He also said: “After this meeting, the party is extremely positive about putting up a stellar performance in the forthcoming Assembly polls. The Congress will restore the pride of Telangana.”
He, however, said that there were no discussions about ticket distributions.
The meeting was attended by key party leaders, including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, chief ministers Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu of Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah, as well as senior party officials like KC Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh.
Challenging KCR’s dominance
Political analyst Prof Sandeep Shastri, who is also the national coordinator for the Lokniti Network, underscored the meeting’s strategic significance and highlighted the Congress’ ambitions to establish a formidable presence in Telangana.
Shastri told South First: “The CWC meeting was not merely held in poll-bound Telangana. KCR has almost finished his two terms in the office. The grand old party aims to reassert its presence in Telangana. The party sees an opportunity and wants to register its prospects.”
He added: “The BJP claimed itself to be the second major party in Telangana, but the Congress is making every effort to ensure it has a strong presence there.”
On the poll promises, Shastri told South First: “These guarantees do not help unless backed by ground support. The Congress could implement these guarantees in Karnataka because it had been in power several times in the state. The Congress had a good presence in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. If the party has ground support, these guarantees make sense.”
Regardless of what the partnership of BJP-BRS-AIMIM does, the government in Telangana will change, and the Congress party will form a government that will deliver these 6 Guarantees to the people of the state.
We are committed to ensuring a minimum standard of living for all,… pic.twitter.com/rieQarikAd
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 18, 2023
He noted: “Even KCR has announced a wide range of welfare schemes for the people. The BJP never ruled Telangana. It will be important to note how the party views these guarantee schemes.”
He further said: “It is important for the Congress to challenge KCR. The Congress has to counter the ruling party, which has been in power for nine years. The upcoming polls will be one of the major elections for the party. The Congress should ensure that it does not drop to third position.
“The Telangana elections will definitely have an impact on national politics ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.”
Tackling issues head on
The CWC passed a total of 14 resolutions that collectively delineated the party’s stance on crucial issues and its vision for the nation’s future.
These resolutions encompassed a wide spectrum of topics, spanning national security, economic challenges, constitutional values, and the party’s commitment to social justice and unity.
Among the notable points of concern expressed by the CWC were escalating unemployment, rising prices of essential goods, and the perceived shortcomings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “rozgar melas”.
The committee also criticised the Union government’s failure to conduct the decennial census, labelling it both a national and international shame with implications for millions of impoverished Indians.
Additionally, the CWC called for an expansion of reservation limits for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The breakdown of constitutional machinery in Manipur was a cause for concern, and attributed to the BJP’s polarising agenda, leading the CWC to advocate for the removal of the state’s chief minister and the imposition of President’s Rule.
The CWC also reaffirmed its determination to transform the INDIA bloc into both an ideological and electoral triumph.
The primary objective of the Congress is steering the country away from divisive politics, reinforcing social equity and justice, and providing a Union government characterised by responsibility, responsiveness, sensitivity, transparency, and accountability, as articulated by the CWC.