Congress shifts focus to state polls after Winter Session


After the Winter Session of the Parliament came to a close one day before schedule on Wednesday, the Congress has now shifted its focus to state elections, with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur set to got to the polls early next year.

According to sources, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi met all the Lok Sabha MPs on Wednesday and took their feedback on the Winter Session. She also asked the MPs to give time for the Assembly elections, the sources said.

The Congress faces the major challenge of retaining power in Punjab, and coming up with a credible show against the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

Except in Uttar Pradesh, the party is in direct contest with the BJP in three states, while in Punjab, it faces the Akali Dal-BSP and Aam Aadmi Party.

Though it is not the main challenger in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress wants to be ahead of the BSP in the contest.

The Congress is faced with a crisis in Goa, where almost all the MLAs have deserted the party, except for two former Chief Ministers — Digambar Kamat and Pratap Singh Rane.

It faces somewhat similar problem in Punjab, where one MLA has left the party while many others have lined up to join the Punjab Lok Congress, the outfit floated by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The party is in a better position in Uttrakhand, where some BJP MLAs have joined the party.

In Manipur too, the Congress is facing an exodus ahead of the polls. The party is paying special attention to the northeastern state and has appointed Jairam Ramesh as the senior observer. In the last elections in Manipur, the Congress could not form the government despite emerging as the single largest party.

The same thing happened in Goa, where around 13 MLAs have joined the BJP in the past five years while two have jumped ship to the Trinamool Congress. The grand old party has now appointed veteran leader P. Chidambaram as senior observer in the coastal state.

The toughest challenge is in Uttar Pradesh where Priyanka Gandhi is in-charge with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel as senior observer.


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