Congress ahead in race for allies

A tactical war has broken out between the Congress and the BJP over the forthcoming 2014 general election. While the Congress is mustering its forces to get a minimum of 150 seats, the BJP is working furiously to achieve a target of a minimum 190 seats.

In the coalition era, if the Congress is confident of romping home with a minimum of 150 seats, BJP spin doctors feel the party needs at least 190 seats to return to power.
In the numbers game the Congress has already consolidated its ties with the DMK and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, initiated back-channel talks with the TRS for a pre-poll alliance and with the YSR Congress for a post-poll tie-up. The BJP’s hunt for allies is becoming tougher with Hindutva icon Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs, sources said. So far only the AIADMK has sent signals to the saffron brigade.
While the Congress has begun its exercise to perk up its media management team, the BJP continues to rely on a handful of columnists. The other problem plaguing the saffron outfit is the mutiny within its rank and file over signals to project Mr Modi as its PM candidate. There is not only an undercurrent brewing over the move among the senior leaders, a revolt has also broken out in the BJP’s Bihar unit.
If the Congress is trying to consolidate the Muslim vote bank, particularly in UP, the BJP’s UP leaders are upset at the interference in state politics by Mr Modi’s trusted man, BJP general secretary in charge of the state Amit Shah. Also, with the CBI sword hanging over Mr Shah, a section in the BJP has already begun a tacit exercise to dislodge him from the state, sources said.
While the BJP is offering Mr Modi to woo the electorate, particularly the Hindu vote bank, the Congress intends to attract voters with its reform measures. The Food Security Bill, Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme, Land Acquisition Bill, Insurance Bill, Pension Bill, Companies Bill and Direct Taxes Code Bill are some of the legislation the Congress-led UPA is expected to bring during the forthcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament to boost the sluggish economy.
In a bid to counter the Modi effect on the urban vote bank, the Congress is preparing a team of nearly 200 spokespersons for print, electronic and social media.
Sources said that barring professionals, top Congress leaders, including Mr P. Chidambaram, Mr Jairam Ramesh, Mr Manish Tewari and Mr Anand Sharma, will train this “cadre of communicators”.

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