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Congress facing ideological, organisational crisis against BJP-RSS onslaught in Uttarakhand

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Congress facing ideological, organisational crisis against BJP-RSS onslaught in Uttarakhand


Pithoragarh, March 31

Congress party had complete sway over Almora parliamentary constituency in the earlier years but in the past decade Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made inroads into the Kumoan heartland winning the seat in 2014 and 2019 general elections. Out of total 14 assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency, BJP has won nine in the last assembly polls held in 2022.

“Interestingly with the passage of time, the narrative and issues of politics, that were there during the first general election of 1951-52 have also changed in the constituency from Gandhian politics to right wing politics,” said L.L. Verma, a retired professor of political science from Kumaon University.

According to Verma, consciousness of Almora voters was shaped by mass participation of its leaders in freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and it remained naturally inclined towards Congress party that was considered representative of freedom movement and Gandhian philosophy.”The changes started showing after the death of Rajiv Gandhi, as the new generation of voters did not connect with freedom movement and getting influenced by Ram Mandir movement of BJP and right wing politics,” said Verma.

“We have several phases of politics in Almora, it began with issues related to freedom movement and the voters highly obliged to Congress party as leader of freedom movement to the present day politics of ‘Ram Mandir’ and ‘Hindu Rastra’ today,” said P.D. Pant, a veteran (90) who has seen all phases of politics since first general election of 1951-52.

According to pant, at beginning of adult franchise process in the first election, it was Congress and Communists who were known to people. Later, Socialist Party emerged as a rival to Congress in late fifties.” We have witnessed effective presence of N.D. Tiwari, Pratap Bhaiya, Lila Ram Sharma, Deewan Singh Bora as socialist leaders in  Kumaon region who used to visit the constituency during general election after 1962 and sought votes for symbols of ‘jhopari’ or ‘Bargad ka ped’ as symbols of Socialist party,” recalled Pant.

L.L. Verma said that after independence, due to constitutional provisions, Kumaon society witnessed revolutionary changes in its social structure, it started witnessing freedom from traditional oppression, application of rule of law, adult franchise  and equal opportunities for all. “It also witnessed revolutionary changes in tenant rights due to Abolition of Zamindari in 1951. These Constitutional provisions besides Gandhian movement prevalent in Kumaon society led to changes  towards social equality,” said Verma

The political atmosphere,in favour of Congress party, that was enriched by charismatic personality of Indira Gandhi, started changing after the death of Rajiv Gandhi and start of Ram temple agitation in 1992.”It started with weakening of Congress due to lack of ideological commitment of its’ leaders and workers while  BJP gained due to its’ appeal amongst youngsters and masses following it’s ‘Hindutva’ agenda,” said L.L. Verma.

Trilok Singh Bisht,(85) former gram Pradhan of Talar Bari in Almora, said that the politics before 1980 was simple and honest , candidates used to villages with least publicity material.” The villagers did not demanded big things, sometimes they demanded irrigation for fields and often used to be happy with being part of adult franchise of the country,” said Trilok Singh Bisht

“Politics started changing in Almora after emergence of Shoban Singh Jeena in sixties, who was a staunch supporter of Jan Sangh party and against Congress,” said Trilok Singh Bisht.

After the year emergency in 1977, the nature of mandate of Almora constituency started changing gradually, as Congress candidate Harish Rawat, could win only three elections of 1980,1984 and 1989 lost to Bacchi Singh Rawat of BJP in next general elections of  1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. “Even thereafter Congress party could not recover itself thereafter despite winning the Almora seat in 2009 general election,” said Verma.

According to keen observors of Almora constituency, the BJP has taken advantage of ideological and organisational weakness of Congress party in Uttarakhand since the state was formed.” The BJP, a cadre based party with supervision of RSS has been able to perform well and influence the voters against Congress party which seemed lost and in ideological bewilderment unable to understand taking a stand against Hindutva onslaught. The confusion of Congress has added to its’ further decline and likely decimation. Only an anti-incumbency wave or inner contradictions of the BJP-RSS combine could save the Congress party,” said LL Verma, the retired professor of political science from Kumaon University.

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