Saturday, 7 June, 2008

Saffron surge cause for alarm for Cong ahead of LS polls

May 25, 2008, New Delhi (PTI): After the saffron surge in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, now the BJP's successful foray in Karnataka has rung the alarm bells for the Congress ahead of a series of elections before the next Lok Sabha polls.
The Grand Old Party is on a slippery electoral road in the last one year and the defeat in Bangalore is a jolt ahead of the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi in the next few months.
Congress leaders are now admitting that a variety of factors did them in Karnataka which includes the issue of price rise, terrorism as also the failure to get their act together.
A senior leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that the state Congress failed to project a united face and the party as a whole was not ready for an election in May. They expected that the elections would be held in October because of delimitation.
Another leader's assertion only recently that if there is an undercurrent of sympathy, BJP will win around 110 seats in the 224-member House proved almost prophetic.
Congress also repeated its mistakes of Gujarat where its tactics of relying on the rebels of BJP had proved counterproductive. In Karnataka, the reliance on JD-S rebels as also repeating most of the Congress MLAs did not find favour with the voters.
The failure to project a chief ministerial candidate also went against the Congress. There was a sizable section in the party at the Central level, which wanted such projection of a CM candidate, but the idea was given up due to too many claimants.
In the Congress, there were too many senior leaders desirous of the top job and S M Krishna's return to active politics after quitting his gubernatorial post in Maharashtra probably made the race bitter internally.
All senior state leaders tried to grab as many seats as possible for their supporters and basically concentrated on those seats only, party insiders said.
In Gujarat too, the party had not projected a CM candidate and Narendra Modi had exploited it to project that he was pitted against Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The Karnataka outcome may present the BJP an issue on its platter ahead of the assembly elections in the states ruled by the saffron party like in Rajasthan, in an attempt to neutralise anti-incumbency.
The shock from Bangalore has come at a time when the UPA coalition at the Centre entered the election year amidst growing concerns over rising prices and a bleak future for the Indo-US nuclear deal.

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