As per the survey published by India Today, the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fallen to 40% from the 66% mark earlier, which raises the question of him being back in power with the same number of majority in 2024 Lok Sabha as was attributed to him in 2019?
The primary reason being quoted for the fall has been the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic with that the inflation and rising unemployment rate which are being termed as the failure of the Narendra Modi led BJP government.
However, the coming back in power with the same majority not only depends on the performance of the BJP government but also how the opposition parties perform especially the Congress party which is the second-largest party in the Lok Sabha after the Bhartiya Janta Party and what role does the regional parties play in countering the BJP, for instance, the Mamta Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC).
From regional parties the expectations are high as Indian National Congress being de facto headless at the moment, Mrs Sonia Gandhi being interim President for the party. TMC had posed a direct threat to BJP during the Bengal elections. Ms Mamata Banerjee though lost her seat in the Nandigram constituency had given a tough fight to the BJP and TMC was able to win the overall elections with a thumping majority. Although by no means the TMC can replicate the same at the national level on its own.
Congress future at the national level looks bleak instead of that it remains the second-largest party which carries the capability to challenge the BJP at the national front in a coalition with the strong regional parties similar to TMC. As per Shekhar Gupta if the Congress’ vote share goes from 20 % to anything above 25% it could pose a challenge to the BJP and this fact is being acknowledged by the BJP as well.
The upcoming Punjab and essentially Uttar Pradesh elections which are known to set the tone for national politics are crucial for the Congress party being a large state in terms of representatives in Lok Sabha and also where the constituency of numerous former and present Prime Minister crop up.
In Punjab despite being in power it appears weak internally, the Captain and Sidhu clashes are not hidden, which further puts a question on the managerial skills of the party with that, to retain a state in which it is already in the power. In Uttar Pradesh Congress is not only required to fight the Yogi Adityanath led BJP but also the rising challenge of the Aam Aadmi Party in the state to which it has in the past lost in Delhi that is also a challenge to the party the Punjab state being the second-largest party in the assembly.
(Vrinda Khanna has been the Research Assistant for the title).