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2010: Toughest year in politics for Dr Singh, Sonia?

Last updated on: December 26, 2010 18:38 IST

2010: Toughest year in politics for Dr Singh, Sonia?

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After an excellent year in which it led a coalition back to power at the Centre, the Congress finds itself in sheer turbulence as 2010 comes to a close, ending as it does hit by scam after scam.

The aam aadmi plank of the party appeared to be coming unstuck, bringing onion tears to the Congress leadership, as price rise continued to give a tough time to the common man.

For Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the year has come to be one of their toughest periods in political life with party leaders caught in scams.

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Jagan's jolt to Congress

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And the outlook for the new year is not that bright with the volatile issue of a separate Telangana state haunting the party amid growing apprehensions that the politically key Andhra Pradesh is gradually slipping out of its hands due to revolt by
YS Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.

In the year ahead, Gandhi has much reasons to worry in view of crucial Assembly elections to West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Assam in a few months time.

Image: YS Jaganmohan Reddy

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Rahul magic failed in Bihar

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Bihar polls witnessed the lowest ever score of four in a House of 243 in spite of the fact that Rahul Gandhi, whom the party projects as the future leader and potential Prime Minister, had virtually led the campaign charge.

The Congress had contested the Bihar elections on its own and something horribly had gone wrong. A greater cause of worry was that it looked as if the new government at the Centre had lost steam and the nerve just one year into the office.


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Shashi Tharoor, the first minister to go

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While the first half of the year went into tackling price rise which continued to be a cause for concern throughout the year, the rest was all about scams and scandals hitting at regular intervals.

Early in the year, the Kochi Indian Premier League team ownership controversy took its toll with Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor resigning in the back of a combined opposition onslaught.


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Not an 'adarsh' year for Congress

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While Ashok Chavan was shown the door as Maharashtra Chief Minister in the wake of the Adarsh housing scam, Suresh Kalmadi got the boot as the Congress Parliamentary Party secretary following bungling in the Commonwealth Games projects in which the Pune MP was the Chairman of the Organising Committee.

Minister of State in the PMO and AICC General Secretary Prithviraj Chavan was made the Maharashtra Chief Minister while Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy was brought as the new Chief Minister in place of K Rosaiah.

The only silver lining was that the opposition had failed to get its act together for most part of the year
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2G scam put the party's crediblity at stake

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As the year came to a close the opposition was crying 'eureka' as they have found an issue -- the 2G spectrum allocation scam -- to paint black the Congress and its coalition.

Opposition felt that the 2 G scam with a presumed loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government was ammunition enough to target the Congress unitedly and the ruling party looked much to worry about from its friends and foes as the allies too took advantage of the difficult situation.

This was notwithstanding the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to put itself on the revival path with Nitin Gadkari still groping in the dark on the success formula. It was not a happy sight as Supreme Court asked the Prime Minister why he ignored the alleged wrongdoings of A Raja in the telecom ministry. Gandhi also expressed concern over the growing "graft and greed".

Though Raja resigned as telecom minister, it was not the end of the story but start of a long story that could have not exactly a sweet ending.

During Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, Congress had virtually rode piggyback to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress to telling effect. Now there have been mixed signals on the issue of alliance for the Assembly polls amid heated exchanges between Trinamool, the second biggest United Progressive Alliance constituent, and local Congress leaders.


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Sliver lining: Rahul ready to be next PM?

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The message that has gone out from the just concluded plenary session of the Congress held at Burari on the outskirts of Delhi was that the battle ahead is clearly uphill.

Senior leaders Digvijay Singh and P Chidambaram as also many young leaders utilised the Plenary to be in the good books of future leader Rahul Gandhi amid projections that he was ready to take over the mantle at his chosen time. Rahul's taking over would mean a generational change in Congress politics.

All in all, 2010 saw the Congress and the UPA passing through challenging times with Radiagate exposing the nexus between lobbyist, power brokers, politicians and the media. Corruption and unabated food inflation are potent and worrisome issues for the UPA as the skyrocketing onion prices had brought down three BJP state governments way back in 1998.

A redeeming feature after the plenary was that the Congress and the UPA appeared to have managed some damage control on the issue of 2G spectrum scam that has bogged down the leadership completely. It was held in the backdrop of the Opposition successfully able to execute the longest shutdown of Parliament to send home the signal that the crisis-ridden Congress was full of scams and has much to hide.


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Will party's new strategy on Hindu terror work?

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The Congress is trying to counter the growing popular resentment over corruption with its new strategy of pitching Ayodhya as a source of BJP's fascist politics and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a fountainhead of Hindu terror.

Some political observers say that the tone and tenor of Gandhi's closing address to the delegates seemed like one that is normally delivered when general elections are round the corner.

It may be right or wrong, but the fact is that a fight is on hand for the Congress in the year ahead.


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