The Maharashtra Congress first sought and got the central leadership’s sanction to fight the local body elections in January on its own.
Less than a week later, some legislators have begun to urge the AICC to allow them to have a tie-up with their coalition partners in the state, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), lest the votes get fragmented.
Shobha Bachchav, a former Mayor of Nasik and now an MLA, was among the MLAs who sought a change of tactics when she met Margaret Alva, AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra.
While this logic may be true in certain cases, the central leadership’s decision to hold the MPs, ministers and legislators accountable for the outcome of the elections in their areas seems to have given the jitters to local leaders who may have failed to nurture their constituencies or maintain contact with the people. They are now worried that if their areas fail to deliver, their own future might get affected.
Working on the logic that its main adversary in the state is now the NCP and not the Shiv Sena, which has split, or the BJP, which is rudderless without Pramod Mahajan’s guidance, the AICC is keen that the state Congress use the local body polls to test its strength on the ground.
This would give the party enough time to take corrective steps, consolidate itself and prepare for the 2009 assembly elections, where the Congress’ main aim is to come to power on its own.
At the moment, the Congress is competing with the NCP in exploiting the disarray in the BJP and Shiv Sena camps.
The party hopes to get a major boost when Congress President Sonia Gandhi addresses five rallies over the next three months in Maharashtra, including one each in Latur, Mumbai and Nagpur.