STAR­ING AT GROUND ZERO

Though the fu­ture of the Congress will be de­cided in 2014, the party is with­er­ing away in cru­cial states where there are no charis­matic lead­ers to re­vive it

India Today - - SPECIAL REPORT - By Priya Sah­gal

So­nia Gandhi doesn’t need arm­chair com­mit­tees to tell her what ails the Congress. All she needs to do is to take a good look at the map of the Gangetic plain. In the 167 Lok Sabha seats of Ut­tarak­hand, Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har and West Ben­gal that fall on the river’s course, the Congress holds a mere 34 seats. Next time, the fig­ure could be smaller. Nor are In­dia’s other rivers more help­ful. The party is dry­ing up in states along the Kr­ishna- Go­davari map that brought the Congress to power twice in 2004 and 2009, while BJP holds sway along the shores of the Nar­mada.

But be­fore the Congress can con­sol­i­date, So­nia needs to shore up the party morale. Morale can re­cover only with vic­tory, and that is not the most vis­i­ble el­e­ment on the hori­zon. Congress chief min­is­ters of Ra­jasthan and Ma­ha­rash­tra are fac­ing dis­si­dence from within, while the party is on the verge of los­ing Andhra Pradesh to a for­mer Con­gress­man. There is some good news from Kar­nataka and Gu­jarat. In the for­mer, the Congress hopes to ben­e­fit from BJP leader B. S. Yed­dyu­rappa’s re­volt while in Gu­jarat, the state lead­ers have called a truce to take on Naren­dra Modi in the 2012 Assem­bly elec­tions. No one is cer­tain about the Cau­very.

The fu­ture of the Congress will be de­cided in 2014. But be­fore that, as many as 10 states go to polls in the next 18 months. These in­clude Gu­jarat, Hi­machal Pradesh, Kar­nataka, Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh, Delhi and Ch­hat­tis­garh. With the ex­cep­tion of Delhi, the Congress has no charis­matic SONIAAND RAHUL NEED TO SHORE UP­THE PARTYMORALE AF­TER THE RE­CENT RE­VERSES

AP PHOTO

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