High on electoral success, the Congress is now talking of a comeback, on its own, in Uttar Pradesh.
On Tuesday, the party won 10 of the 31 seats that went to the polls in seven states on November 7. The good showing in the byelections comes on the back of victory in the Lok Sabha polls and the state elections in Haryana, Arunachal and Maharashta.
The party won the Firozabad parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh where its candidate Raj Babbar, a former Samajwadi Party (SP) leader, defeated Dimple Yadav, daughter-in-law of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The party also won the Lucknow assembly seat. UP sends 80 members to the Parliament, the highest for any state.
With the SP and BJP pushed further back in UP, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said: “… The next battle will be between the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party… We're confident that the Congress will form a government in UP after the next assembly polls.''
He and colleague Janardhan Dwivedi attributed the party's performance to general secretary Rahul Gandhi. "His rallies changed things for the Congress in UP,” said Singh.
But won't a wounded SP dilute its support to the UPA? "The SP cannot make a move that may be seen as being on the same page as the BJP,'' said a Congressman on condition of anonymity.
But the victory was laced with concern. The party lost in Rohru (Himachal) and Padrauna (in UP). In Rohru, home to Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, infighting took a toll. Singh had reportedly warned that he couldn't guarantee victory.