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Congress to push for Lok Sabha polls in Jan-Feb 2014?

July 13, 2013 21:17 IST

Congress to push for Lok Sabha polls in Jan-Feb 2014?

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The frenetic activity currently being witnessed in the Congress combined with the United Progressive Alliance government’s move to postpone the monsoon session of Parliament till end-August has once again fuelled speculation about the possibility of an early election, says Anita Katyal.

The monsoon session usually commences by July-end, but reliable UPA sources have confirmed that it has now been deferred till the third week of August. This essentially means that the UPA government need not call a winter session in November-December since it is constitutionally stipulated that the gap between two sessions should not exceed six months.

Congress circles are talking animatedly about a possible Lok Sabha poll in January-February although the election is not due till April.

Although this has been officially denied by party spokespersons, Congress leaders maintained that it might be advisable to spring a surprise on the opposition which is determined to stall Parliament so that the government is unable to push through its stalled legislative agenda.

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Govt's priority is to get the country's economy back on track

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It is precisely for this reason that the Centre adopted the ordinance route to implement the food security bill. Instead of wasting its time and energy in fending off opposition attacks, the Congress would rather utilise its time to publicise and implement the food security programme in the Congress-ruled states.

At the same time, the government is getting ready to roll out further economic reforms such as raising FDI caps, giving clearances to more infrastructure projects  and taking a fresh look at it disinvestment plans.

As inflation rises and the rupee weakens, the government’s priority is to get the country’s economy back on track.

As the ruling coalition struggles with governance issues, the Congress has gone into poll mode. While keeping the focus on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it is also concentrating on this year-end assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Mizoram.

The state assembly elections are crucial as the results will provide possible pointers to the mood of the people.

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Image: A labourer spreads paddy for drying at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters

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A process has already been set in motion

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Getting down to serious business, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday called a meeting of its chief ministers to discuss the steps for the implementation of the food security bill, billed as a game-changer and a potential vote-catcher.

Delhi and Haryana told the meeting that they were ready to roll out the scheme from August 20, Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary. The emphasis at the meeting was speedy implementation as the Congress would like the benefits of the scheme to percolate down to the people so that it is able to hardsell it in the coming elections.

In fact, this process has already been set in motion. The party is going out on a limb to repeatedly publicise the Congress-led UPA government’s pro-poor schemes.

While party spokespersons have been deputed to different state capitals to create awareness about the food security ordinance, the ruling coalition’s publicity managers have chalked out a separate programme.

To begin with, Congress ministers will be addressing regional press conferences in the coming weeks to speak about the government’s achievements. Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad are slated to address the first such media interaction at Jaipur next Tuesday while their colleagues will follow subsequently.

The ministers will initially visit the poll-bound states as they will be constrained from undertaking such an exercise once the model code of conduct kicks in by September.

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Sheila Dikshit also faces a tough task

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Keeping a sharp on the assembly elections, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh is also getting its act together. It will sound the poll bugle with a public rally on Sunday at Nasrullahganj, located in Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's constituency assembly segment.

Coming a few months before the elections, the Congress is all set to take on the Chouhan on the issue of illegal mining although it will be tough task as the chief minister has two successive wins under his belt.

Moreover, the Congress is a bitterly-divided house in Madhya Pradesh although all senior state leaders including Digvijaya Singh, Union Ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, State Congress chief Kantilal Bhuria and Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, will share a platform at this meeting.

But Madhya Pradesh in not the only state where the Congress has to contend with factionalism and bitter infighting Chhattisgarh  Congress is also wracked by dissension with senior party leader Ajit Jogi threatening to sabotage the coming election if he is not projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate.

The Rajasthan chief minister is trying hard to beat back his government's anti-incumbency while BJP leader Vasundhra Raje has launched a sustained campaign against him.

Three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit also faces a tough task as rising prices, corruption charges and the general disillusionment with the UPA government are posing a serious threat to the party's poll prospects.




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