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Karnataka Won, Congress Eyes Other Poll-Bound States. Calls 4-State Huddle

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Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will chair the meeting, sources said. (file)

New Delhi:

Bolstered by electoral victories in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the Congress is now shifting focus to other poll-bound states in a desperate bid to consolidate its voter base ahead of the crucial general elections next year. The grand old party has called a meeting of leaders from Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan on May 24 to strategise for upcoming Assembly elections.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will chair the meeting, sources said.

The meeting comes amid internal conflict among senior leaders over postings. Celebrations of the massive win in the south were dampened by week-long chaos regarding the Chief Ministerial seat, with two top leaders refusing to blink. Congress eventually calmed nerves with a power-sharing deal between Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar. The party is now faced with another similar tussle. In Rajasthan, a belligerent Sachin Pilot has trained guns on his own government to make his political aspirations clear to the high command. Congress’s state in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has said the party won’t expel dissidents but reminded how the leaders in the past had fared after leaving the party.

Madhya Pradesh, where Congress suffered a humiliating loss after a rebellious Jyotiraditya Scindia walked away with 22 party MLAs causing the fall of the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government in 2020, is another challenge for the party as most of the Scindia loyalist MLAs were comfortably re-elected from the BJP. The party hopes to topple the BJP as it faces huge anti-incumbency after staying in power for most of the last two decades.

In Telangana, Congress will take on K Chandrashekar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi, complicating plans of a united grand opposition to the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Congress is hoping to capitalise on former party president Rahul Gandhi’s massive pan-India foot march “Bharat Jodo Yatra” which it says has re-energised its cadre base. The party publicly credited the yatra for the Karnataka win.