No break-up blues for Cong, feels prospects to improve

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 26 September 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The Congress expects the crumbling of alliances in Maharashtra — its own with the NCP and that between the Shiv Sena-BJP—has given it a lifeline just when it was staring at a crushing defeat in the assembly elections.

Ahead of the October 15 polls, battlelines have been redrawn, bringing the state to a long-forgotten territory - a five-cornered contest, split in two major vote banks and the Congress contesting all the 288 seats.

"The NCP's departure was no doubt painful, but we will benefit from an organisational point of view,'' Congress spokesperson Anant Gagdil told TOI. "In a five-cornered contest, Congress would emerge the single-largest party," claimed Sanjay Nirupam, a former Mumbai MP.

The most significant impact will be a split in the Sena-BJP's Hindutva base, with Mumbai a case in point. The Sena turf looked like landing in the saffron pocket but not many are now sure.

On test after the split will be the Congress' claim that its pan-Maharashtra presence was cramped by its alliance with the NCP. "We found our presence in nearly 100 constituencies was negligible. Most of our activists had joined others,'' a senior Congress minister said.

The Congress minister said the image of the Democratic Front government was tarnished by corruption allegations against NCP ministers like Ajit Pawar (irrigation scam), Vijay Kumar Gavit and Babanrao Pachpute, who later joined the BJP. Gadgil said the Prithviraj Chavan government improved the party's image. "Chavan provided a clean administration and there are no corruption charges against Congress ministers,'' he said.

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