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Congress in no haste for snap polls
Nistula Hebbar in Delhi | September 12, 2005 10:57 IST
Last Updated: September 12, 2005 10:58 IST
With the principal opposition party lurching from crisis to crisis, the economy doing not too badly and a prime minister who appears to enjoy a huge approval rating even though the government is being pulled in different directions by allies, this would seem the perfect opportunity to call for snap mid-term polls and secure a majority.
The Congress, however, has decided not to give in to the temptation just yet, and the reasons are not difficult to find. According to top Congress sources, the matter has been discussed extensively in party fora and it was decided that the best course was to learn from the Bharatiya Janata Party's mistakes in the last elections.
During a visit to Hyderabad in July, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and an All India Congress Committee general secretary candidly admitted as much to party leaders in the state at a banquet.
"The reasoning was that despite the image of the government at the Centre and the effects of Sonia Gandhi's sacrifice of the top post, several local units of the Congress were in bad shape," said a senior Congressman from Andhra Pradesh.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress government led by YSR Reddy has handled the Naxal issue badly and with the alienation felt by the Telengana Rashtra Samithi, the party is likely to do badly.
In states like Kerala and West Bengal, the Congress has realistically pegged its chances as poor. The state units in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are in no position to fight elections and in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there is no question of gains, said the leader.
According to him, the AICC general secretary was at pains to explain that the 2004 general elections had taught them that elections are now won on the basis of local factors.
So, while former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has dared the United Progressive Alliance government to go to polls, the Congress is not ready to bite the bait. "It is very tempting, but we have to be realistic," the AICC general secretary was reported to have told eager Congressmen in Hyderabad.