With polling for the Assembly elections to Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and West Bengal over, all eyes in the Congress are now on May 13, the day the results will be out.
Publicly, the party's spokespersons have been saying that they don't think that the outcome of this set of elections should be seen as a referendum on the United Progressive Alliance government's functioning. Privately, a senior party functionary said, “It is the Congress that has a major stake in these elections, not the Bharatiya Janata Party. So the results will have an impact on the party and politics in the country in the months to come.”
Sources in the party said they expected that the rest of May would be occupied with the formation of new State governments, followed by the marking of the UPA's second year in power on May 22, after which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads out to attend the India-Africa summit in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
It is, therefore, in June that the Congress, a party functionary said, that the much awaited “chintan shivir,” announced by party president Sonia Gandhi at the party's plenary in Burari in December last, will be held, in all likelihood in Rajasthan's Mount Abu.
At the “chintan shivir” that is likely to be held over three days, the party, the sources said, would take stock of the seven years it was in power, set out a fresh road map for the remaining three years of its tenure, take a hard look on how to deal with the corruption issue in a way so as to regain the credibility that it had lost, and finally, examine how to strengthen the organisation in the States that it is weak in – or has got weaker, such as Andhra Pradesh, following the Telengana agitation and the exit of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
The sources said they also expected that the “expansive” Cabinet reshuffle that the Prime Minister had promised at the time of the last reshuffle in January should also take place sometime between the “chintan shivir” and the monsoon session of Parliament, slated for July. Apart from some changes in the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham and the Trinamool Congress component of the UPA, depending on the election results, the party is hoping for some dramatic changes in the Congress component of the government. If the Assembly results were positive for the Congress, there would be greater leeway for changes in the Union Council of Ministers, the sources said.
Buffeted by a series of scams over the last one year, the Congress, therefore, badly needs some good news to enthuse its party workers.