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Congress stepping on gas in UP, Punjab, slacking in other poll-bound states

india Updated: Jul 25, 2016 01:28 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, centre, has been campaigning in his state for some months now.(PTI)

In a striking contrast to its much-hyped campaign strategy in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the Congress appears to be going at laggard pace in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, which too go to polls in February-March next year.

While the party stepped on the accelerator in Uttar Pradesh with the launch of a three-day bus yatra from Delhi to Kanpur on Saturday, its Punjab chief Captain Amarinder Singh too has been campaigning in his state for some months now.

But there are no immediate plans for the other three poll-bound states.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set for a debut in Punjab where it’s growing popularity has not only left the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine worried but is also sending jitters through the Congress camp.

For its part, the Congress is desperately seeking to avenge the two successive defeats at the hands of the Akalis in 2007 and 2012 polls.

The AAP could upset the Congress’ bid to regain power. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has been able to create some buzz with the naming of Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate and Raj Babbar as the new state chief.

In Goa too, the AAP appears to have taken a clear lead over the Congress in challenging the ruling BJP with an impressive rally by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on May 22.

As in Delhi, the AAP will seek to target the anti-BJP vote in Goa. That is a serious concern for the Congress, which was hoping to consolidate the secular vote this time.

Though the Congress has an edge over the BJP in Uttarakhand following attempts to topple the Harish Rawat government, the enthusiasm that the central leadership is showing in UP is visibly missing in the hill state.

In Manipur, the Congress managed to save its government after party rebels threatened to overthrow chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

A cabinet reshuffle along with decision to replace the state chief saved the Congress from facing the repeat of Uttarakhand and Arunchal Pradesh-like situation.

But the bigger worry for the Congress is the growing presence of BJP in the northeast, especially after its win in Assam. Manipur is very much on BJP’s electoral radar.