Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, Mar 02, 2011
ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version
Google



Front Page

News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Obituary |

Front Page Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Daunting task ahead for Congress

Smita Gupta


Sonia asks her Tamil Nadu party colleagues to demand more seats

Party centres its campaign around development issue in Kerala


New Delhi: The ruling Congress, which heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, is hoping that the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry – dates for which were announced here on Tuesday – will provide it with the opportunity to get on firmer political ground nationally.

In West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, it is driving a hard bargain with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) respectively, even though it is the junior partner in both States: its goal is to work towards regaining lost ground in regions from which it had all but disappeared.

In these two States, the Congress wants to establish the idea of power-sharing before the elections with its poll partners – in Tamil Nadu, it has even suggested a coordination committee and a common minimum programme, party sources stressed. In Tamil Nadu, where the Congress wants 75 to 80 seats, the DMK's first offer has been 53, but after a meeting between the State's Congress leaders and national president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday, the latter has asked her party colleagues to keep up the pressure for a larger chunk of seats.

Bright prospect

The Congress is expecting to wrest West Bengal and Kerala from the Left Front, in partnership with the TMC in the first, and at the head of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the latter. In West Bengal, the signs have been there for a while, starting with the opposition to the Left Front's attempts to acquire land in Singur and Nandigram for industry taking on a life of its own. Since then, the Left Front has been in steady decline, electorally, whether in local polls or in last year's Lok Sabha elections. The TMC-Congress combine is hoping to end 34 years of Left rule.

In Kerala, the case is different: traditionally, the UDF and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) have been alternating, and the Congress hopes it will be able to oust the LDF which is in power. The Congress is centering its campaign around the development issue, stressing the fact that even though it has not been in power in the State for the last five years, it has given major Centrally sponsored development projects to all of Kerala's districts.

In Assam and Puducherry, where the Congress is in power, the going will be tougher. But party sources say they stand a good chance of retaining power. In Assam, the Tarun Gogoi government is relying on the fact that the Opposition remains divided: the Asom Gana Parishad appears to have struck an alliance with the Muslim-dominated Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), which precludes its tying up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). If the Opposition remains divided, the Congress, which is making development a major poll plank, could stage a return.

Indeed, the Congress is going all out in Assam: not only did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visit the State recently, on Monday, for instance, Mr. Gogoi promised the Barak Valley a Rs.1000-crore package if the Congress wins all 15 segments of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi.

Clearly, if the Congress can do well in these Assembly elections – where its principal opponent at the Centre, the BJP, has little stake – it will give it the boost the corruption-ravaged party badly needs to sustain itself till 2014.

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



Front Page

News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |

Chandraayan I


News Update



The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | The Hindu ePaper | Business Line | Business Line ePaper | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Ergo | Home |

Copyright 2011, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu