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This article was first published 9 years ago  » News » Tough road for Congress ahead of assembly polls

Tough road for Congress ahead of assembly polls

By Renu Mittal
September 12, 2014 21:47 IST
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After it failed the crucial May 2014 ‘exams’ without even getting passing marks, its that time again for the Congress as elections for the two state assemblies of Maharashtra and Haryana taking place on October 15. Renu Mittal reports

The Congress has state governments in both Maharashtra and Haryana. In the former, it is battling 15-year anti-incumbency as the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine has been successful in keeping the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine out of power, and in Haryana the Congress has been ruling for the past 10 years.

But now the Grand Old Party is facing a tough uphill task to stay on top of the game.

For the BJP too, the coming elections will be seen as a review of the Centre’s performance and a test for the Modi magic and whether the Lok Sabha goodwill and high expectations can be carried forward onto the assembly stage.Voting for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 assembly seats is being held on Saturday and the bye-poll results will indicate whether the BJP is still ahead in Uttar Pradesh or whether the huge victory in the May polls was just an aberration.

While the Congress is going it alone in all the 90 assembly constituencies of Haryana, party leaders feel they may gain some benefit with the vote likely to be divided among various parties, as the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal have also decided the same.

Smaller parties are fighting together in a bid to get the huge non-Jat vote which is up for grabs in the state. Most political pundits at this stage of the election do not see any political party getting a clear majority, and it looks more and more likely that the BJP may need the help and support of Chautala to form the government in the state; in the post election scenario.

Within the congress, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is a one-man-army who is ranged against a number of detractors within his own party but despite all attempts to unseat him, the Congress leaders have failed to do anything about him.

In Maharashtra, neither the Congress-NCP nor the BJP-Shiv Sena have officially sewn up their alliance. Both the combines are facing hiccups over seat sharing and the distribution of seats.

NCP’s Sharad Pawar, known to be a wily and clever politician has serious reservations over campaigning with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whom he regards as a liability, and has reservations over Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

BJP president Amit Shah has announced that the next government in Maharashtra would be formed under the leadership of the BJP, making it clear it wants the chief minister’s post. Sena is demanding the same, with Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister.

In between is his cousin Raj Thackeray, who had helped the Congress win the last time when he split the Sena vote. But this time, after performing badly in the Lok Sabha polls, he is looking to redeem his own position and would have to fight a lone battle to help his own party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena survive. How he affects the votes this time around remains to be seen.

In such a scenario, the BJP has the edge in both the 90 member Haryana assembly as well as the 288 member Maharashtra assembly. Defeat for the Congress could further create schisms in the party which is already looking frail, with the leadership unable to breathe a new life into it.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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