Cong starts work on manifesto

The Congress has started working on a manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, asking its state units to provide inputs for it in the next two weeks.

According to informed sources, the AICC general secretaries have been asked to convey this to the PCC chiefs and the CLP leaders to provide their inputs to senior leader A.K. Antony, who is heading a 10-member sub-group on manifesto and government programmes. These developments have begun a guessing game within the party about timing of the Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Antony, the defence minister, is also heading the AICC sub-group on pre-poll alliances. But the current mood in the party is not to expand the UPA or initiate talks of seat-sharing with new allies at this juncture.
“Everything will depend on the outcome of the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi due in November-December. If the Congress retains Delhi and Rajasthan and wins the Chhattisgarh Assembly, then prospective allies will not be in a position to dictate terms. But if it wins only one state, then it will have to approach secular parties to check the BJP and its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi,” sources said.
According to them, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi is keen to shortlist the Congress candidates in Uttar Pradesh within a month.
Congress managers are watching the changing political situation and the possible impact of the BJP’s attempt to polarise people on communal lines in Uttar Pradesh, besides deteriorating economic situation and demand of smaller states.
If good monsoons and emergence of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s face in the Lok Sabha elections could help the Congress, anti-incumbency, governance, corruption and inflation could go against it in the electoral battle.
These developments are taking place at a time when the Congress is determined to pass the Food Security Bill in the current session of Parliament.
A senior non-UPA leader and sitting MP on Friday said food security, land acquisition and Aadhar could work in favour of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.
Interestingly, the Left and a section of the BJP feel the Congress would perform well in Delhi, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the coming Assembly polls if it takes some corrective steps.
“In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress would give a tough fight to the BJP if it fights the poll under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia,” they said.

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