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Home > Election > Report

Congress veterans all set to make a comeback

Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi | December 16, 2002 22:40 IST

Even as the Congress tries to come to terms with its rout in the Gujarat assembly election, veterans within the party are gearing up to take on the team that advised Sonia Gandhi on the party's campaign strategy in the state.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Nabi Azad and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, who were kept out of the Sonia Gandhi's poll team, are expected to regain their prominence.

All India Congress Committee general secretary Kamal Nath, who was in charge of Gujarat, has been trying to save his skin by holding a "silent Hindutva wave" responsible for the BJP's landslide victory. He said that the wave overrode all factors, including anti-incumbency and caste. "The polarisation [communal] was so profound that within 100 kilometres around Godhra we could not win a single seat, while towards the eastern side, which adjoins Madhya Pradesh border we lost everything."

Nath's emphasis on the areas adjoining the Madhya Pradesh border is seen as a move to rub off some of the blame on Digvijaj Singh.

But insiders say that Nath is expected to bear the brunt along with other Sonia prot�g�s -- K N Singh, Suresh Pachauri, Ahmad Patel and Ambika Soni -- for drafting the party's strategy.

They also point out that the BJP's whisper campaign that a Congress victory would generate a Muslim backlash yielded a "rich harvest" for them. They also accused the BJP of spreading a "fear psychosis".

"Basically the Hindutva wave was so silent that even in constituencies where there were 25-30,000 Muslim votes the BJP won with a convincing margin. This signifies as to how sharp was the polarisation," a senior Congress leader said.

Nine states go to the polls next year, and the BJP's victory has upped the stakes for the Congress, which has been seen as strong enough to bid for power at the Centre.

Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram are the states scheduled to go for polls.


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