Highlights

  • Loss in Chhattisgarh & Rajasthan deeply concerning: Chidambaram
  • 'BJP fights every election like their last'
  • Chidambaram spoke on Congress' poll prospects to PTI on 17 December

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BJP's hyper nationalism, polarisation politics concerning, immediate task to win 2024 polls: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader, P Chidambaram, described the party's performance in the recent Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan assembly elections as unexpected and concerning Chidambaram stated on Sunday.

BJP's hyper nationalism, polarisation politics concerning,  immediate task to win 2024 polls: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has termed the party’s debacle in the recently held Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan assembly polls as "unexpected" and "a matter of worry".

In an exclusive interview to PTI, Chidambaram on Sunday said the BJP fights every election "as if it is the last battle" and that is what opposition parties "must realise".

"BJP’s victory in three states – Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – is a major boost for the party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The defeat of the Congress in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan was unexpected. The results are worrying and I believe the party’s leadership will address the weaknesses," the former Union finance minister said.

The veteran leader, however, said the party’s 40 per cent vote share in the four big states - Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Telangana - where assembly elections were held recently "seems to be intact".

Chidambaram said he is hopeful that the party’s vote share might increase up to 45 per cent ahead of the Lok Sabha polls by addressing issues such as last-mile campaign, booth management and bringing the dormant voter to the polling station on election day.

In the recently held elections, the BJP defeated the Congress in all the three states where the two were in a face-to-face fight, wresting control of both Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and retaining power in Madhya Pradesh. The only consolation for the Congress was in Telangana where it pushed the BJP to the third place.

Expressing concern on BJP’s "polarisation, veiled anti-Muslim and anti-Christian propaganda and hyper-nationalism", the Congress Rajya Sabha MP said the party must find a befitting response to it.

"It is a potent combination. The BJP has given up its tirade against welfare measures (so-called freebies). But I am more concerned about polarisation, concealed anti-Muslim and anti-Christian propaganda, and hyper-nationalism. Northern and central Indian states seem susceptible to this kind of appeal. The Congress must find an appropriate response," he said.

On caste census being the party’s top agenda for 2024 polls, Chidambaram said, "It is an important issue but may not be the determining factor. In my view, unemployment and inflation top the list. In every survey, these are the two issues that concern people the most." Whether demonetisation, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will affect the BJP vote bank in the upcoming polls, he said, "Demonetisation is an old issue. Its scars have faded. But we will talk about demonetisation in the context of the hordes of black money seized repeatedly. In the last round of assembly elections, the ECI had seized Rs 1,760 crore of alleged unaccounted money." "The NRC and CAA will become important issues if the government activates them and tries to implement them," he added.

On surveys predicting BJP win in the 2024 LS polls, Chidambaram said, "The wind is in BJP’s sail. But winds can change direction. The BJP never takes an election lightly. It fights as if it is the last battle. The opposition parties must realise the fighting quality of the saffron party." On INDIA bloc’s preparations for LS polls, Chidambaram said the leaders of the alliance will have to identify candidates who can take on the BJP in at least 400-425 seats.

"I am not privy to the internal discussions that take place when INDIA bloc leaders meet. I am sure they realise that there are only three months before the next elections.

"The most important task is to identify at least 400-425 seats where the opposition alliance should field one candidate to take on the BJP," he added.

On INDIA bloc’s PM face and its seat sharing plans, Chidambaram said people's response to the alliance’s leaders will help in identifying the PM face, but more than that is the need to win the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

"The person to lead the government will be selected after the elections. People's response will be the key to selecting the leader. The immediate task is to win the elections," he added.

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