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Why Cong is more happy than sad after counting day

Last updated on: May 14, 2011 09:31 IST

Why Cong is more happy than sad after counting day

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
For the Congress it has turned out to be a good Friday the 13th. The party has returned to power in Assam and Kerala. In West Bengal, it's back in power after almost four decades riding piggyback on its ally the Trinamool Congress.

In Tamil Nadu it sees the defeat of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam as a blessing in disguise, since it will now have to deal only with a much weakened DMK which will be in no position to dictate terms. The only slight regret that the Congress has is in Puducherry where it has lost its government to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

For a party which was in the doghouse on issues of corruption for the last many months, the Congress is back in business.

As a senior party functionary put it, "The message has gone loud and clear that the party is healthy, fit and fine. On the contrary it is the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties which need to look within and introspect on their performance".

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Image: PM Manmohan Singh with Pranab Mukherjee at a gathering in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters
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Kerala MLAs -- not Delhi -- to decide the course

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Having ensured the return of the Congress to power in Assam for the third term, Tarun Gogoi is all set to return to the state as the chief minister despite his poor health.

Whatever changes will take place in the leadership will only be a year or two down the line, said a senior leader adding that nobody could take away the credit for the victory from Gogoi.

In Kerala, the Congress has performed below expectation. But having touched the magical majority mark of 71 with one seat to spare (it won 72 seats) the frontrunner for the post of chief minister is Ommen Chandy, the most experienced leader the party has, who can also carry the party as it has a strong opposition to reckon with.

The internal fighting in the Congress, the outsized aspirations of many chief ministerial candidates who sabotaged their rivals and the sympathy which Chief Minister Achutanandan got after his party denied him a ticket and then reversed the decision helped him to make up the lost ground, and had almost beaten the Congress in a see saw battle.

It is also perhaps for the first time that the powerful Christian lobby put up its own candidates, which also damaged the Congress party. Party sources said that because of the wafer-thin majority of the Congress Legislature Party, the MLAs will vote their leader and no decision will be imposed from Delhi.


Image: Congress leader Ommenn Chandy

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Cong's Bengal future depends on Mamata's offers

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In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has invited the Congress to join her government in the state even though she has won a majority on her own, and at this stage, at least it does not need the Congress.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is leaving for Kolkata on Saturday, and will hold discussions with Mamata. She is likely to return to Delhi with Pranab on Sunday after which there would be further discussions with party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress' decision on whether to join the government in Bengal would depend upon how many berths and what portfolios Mamata will offer. There would also be discussions on whether there would be a common minimum programme between the two allies in Kolkata, even though there is no CMP in New Delhi where Mamata is in the United Progressive Alliance government.

A Congress core committee meeting was held on Friday evening to review the results of the five state assemblies but sources said there was no decision on joining the West Bengal government as further discussions would be held.


Image: Mamata Banerjee waves to supporters after Trinamool defeated Left front government, in Kolkata on Friday
Photographs: Reuters
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Cong is less tense than DMK over poll drubbing

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In Tamil Nadu both the Congress and the DMK have been swept away by the Jayalalithaa tsunami. She has returned to power with a big bang, but sources in the Congress said they are not unduly upset as a much weakened DMK, with its 18 MPs supporting them in the Centre, is a much better scenario rather than a strong Karunanidhi who would have been dictating terms if they had been re-elected to power.

For the Congress there is no advantage in going with Jayalalithaa since the general elections are still three years away and she has only half the MPs compared to DMK. The Congress itself has suffered a set back having won only 7 seats in the state. It was clear that the mood in Tamil Nadu was for change and Jayalalithaa was the best option available.

In Puducherry, the Congress failed to bring back into its fold the rebel leader Ramaswamy. He came to Delhi to meet the leadership and waited for four days after which he returned and struck an alliance with the AIADMK.

The winds in Tamil Nadu mostly influence the climate and temperature in Puducherry, and it was the same in this case.


Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with DMK supremo M Karunanidhi at a function in Chennai
Photographs: Reuters
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None can take the credit from Gogoi

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Pranab Mukherjee said while Kerala and west Bengal reflected change, in Assam the Congress increased its tally from 53 to 78 seats. He said it's a verdict for 'stability, development and reconciliation.' Gogoi brought United Liberation Front of Asom into the mainstream and this was endorsed by the people of Assam, Pranab noted.

He said he hoped that political parties will draw the right lesson and behave since in a parliamentary democracy, elections are held at regular intervals. It is for the parties to wait for their turn to be elected and they should not indulge in the politics of destabilisation.

Coming from Pranab Mukherjee, the seniormost political leader that the Congress has, it is a clear warning to both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties to respect the mandate of the elections and let the UPA run the country.

Senior leaders in the party said that the May 13 results have come as a big boost for the Congress and it will now be in a position to be more aggressive and on the offensive when it comes to dealing with the BJP, whether it be on issues of corruption or otherwise.


Image: Assam CM Tarun Gogoi waves to supporters after Congress retained the state for a third consecutive term, in Guwahati on Friday
Photographs: Reuters
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