Getting ready for the big one
The right choreography should see the Congress put up a more synchronised show than it has in a long time in the forthcoming assembly elections in Puducherry, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala.
Among these, at least three are not likely to throw up any surprises and the Congress will be able to hold its own. But that can be of little comfort because these seats will be in Assam, Kerala and Puducherry which are really bus fare when compared with Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
These two are the electoral juggernauts that can either carry the UPA forward or crush it in their path. Tamil Nadu will prove the most tricky with the chameleon-like permutations and combinations on the ground. After some years in the wilderness, the AIADMK and its mercurial leader
J Jayalalithaa have been able to capitalise on the mess that the rival and UPA ally, the DMK finds itself in. Ms Jayalalithaa, no stranger to allegations of corruption, has been able to deftly play up the unending and unedifying family feuds in the DMK, and it having to accept the fact that one of its ministers has been charged with corruption and had to forfeit his job in the 2G spectrum scam.
The anti-incumbency factor could hit the party even as it tries to drive a hard bargain with the Congress on seat-sharing. Ms Jayalalithaa had earlier tried to throw the Congress what she saw as a life raft when the scam broke, but the Congress preferred to swim ashore on its own.
In West Bengal, the Congress itself is not a factor but its ally, the Trinamool Congress with its volatile leader Mamata Banerjee is in with a fair chance of dislodging the Left Front after decades in power.
But, given the extent and depth of the Left's reach, Ms Banerjee's passage to Writers Building will not be quite the cakewalk she expects. If she does trounce the Left, the Congress could ride on her coattails and begin to build up the party in the state.
The manner in which the Congress leaders who are put in charge of the elections conduct the proceedings and the results will also impact on internal changes in the government and the party.
The forthcoming reshuffle will definitely reflect the outcome of the polls and the Congress president is likely to reorganise the party accordingly. The moves have all been scripted fairly well so far. But whether it will be the trailer for the general elections depends on the supporting cast of allies that the Congress can muster.
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