In a double barreled attack on the Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh over the violence in the local body elections, the Congress’ state unit demanded President’s Rule in the state while the All India Congress Committee expressed apprehension that if the trend of violence continued the elections for the Assembly early next year may not be free and fair.
Unlike Pradesh Congress Committee chief Salman Khursheed who saw UP as a fit case for President’s Rule, the AICC did not call for central intervention. In fact, spokesman Abhishek Singhvi even tried to make light of questions why the Congress did not publicly announce withdrawal of support for the Samajwadi Party-led government "The UP government is not based on our support," he said, stressing that the Congress has been unsparing and unrelenting in attacking the Mulayam regime.
The Congress’ reluctance to withdraw support is linked to two main concerns. One, it might send a wrong signal to the muslims who see Mulayam as their shield against the BJP. And two, it may prompt a similar reaction from the SP which had, suo motu, decided to support the UPA government at the Centre. This would put a question mark on the Congress’ attempts to prevent a blurring of lines between the secular and communal parties.
But by attacking Mulayam, the Congress hopes to have its share of Opposition space in UP where the main battle is between the SP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. A negligible player in the state where it has lost its traditional dalit-muslim-brahmin support to the BSP, the SP and the BJP, the Congress’ desperate effort is to win around 45 seats so that it can become a factor in the post-poll scenario. And in order to achieve this, it is likely to look for allies among smaller formations like V P Singh-backed Jan Morcha and the Rashtriya Lok Dal whose leader Ajit Singh has remained a slippery customer.
If it fails to increase its tally from the two-dozen seats it won in the last assembly elections, the Congress state unit may be put through another round of experimentation. After trying out with upper caste and a muslim PCC chief, it may now experiment with an OBC leader in order to create a niche for the party in this section In fact, some leaders may press for this model if the party does not fare well in the polls.
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