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Congress in pan-India crisis, faces rebellion ahead of Assembly polls

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 - 11:01am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

Just a few months after facing a humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Congress party seems to be grounded by the pan-India crisis as senior leaders from the party are openly rebelling against its high command. Of the five dissident-struck states, Assembly elections are due in Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jammu and Kashmir later this year. Ever since the Congress was decimated in the Lok Sabha elections in May, where it was reduced to its worst ever tally of 44, questions were being raised by the cadres over party vice president Rahul Gandhi's leadership. And now, ahead of the Assembly elections in some of the states, the situation for the party is becoming tougher as the Congress leadership is grappling with the massive rebellion in party-ruled states.

Narayan Rane, senior party leader 
A crisis-like situation has arisen for the Congress in Maharashtra as its senior leader Narayan Rane resigned from the post of Maharashtra Industries minister on Monday. Ahead of the state Assembly elections, that will take place in the next two months, Rane in the press conference openly criticised the Congress, expressing his anger over the functioning of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. Rane also launched an attack on the government as public works are delayed. Assuming that the party will face a debacle in the upcoming Assembly elections like it faced in the Lok Sabha polls, Rane added to the party's woes saying, "I don't want to be minister in a party that might lose the Assembly election". Narayan Rane had joined the Congress party nine years ago after leaving the Shiv Sena, which he had been part of for 39 years. Out of the 48 seats, the Congress and NCP alliance in Maharashtra won only six seats against 42 for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, while the Congress won only two seats – ‚Äčone in Nanded and the other in Hingoli. Recently, a staunch supporter of Rane from Thane joined the Shiv Sena along with seven other corporators. The state assembly of Maharashtra has 288 seats. During the 2009 Assembly election, the Congress had won 82 seats and its alliance the NCP 62 seats. 

Himanta Biswa Sarma
Rebelling against the Congress leadership in the state, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma quit the Tarun Gogoi administration with 31 MLAs demanding that he be given the top executive job in the north-eastern state. Sarma has however reiterated that whenever there would be a party whip, they would follow the whip in the Assembly, ruling out any threat to the Gogoi government. On the other hand, the Congress high command has refused to entertain Sarma's demand for a change in leadership in the state. In the 126 member assembly, the Congress has 77 MLAs. The party has lost the support of the 12-member Bodoland People's Party already. With 31 of its own MLAs deciding to play the role of "constructive opposition" by supporting Sarma, the Congress government in Assam is in a crisis like situation.

Jammu and Kashmir
Rebellion: Lal Singh
A few days after the National Conference (NC) and the Congress party broke their alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress faces a major setback in the state as its two-time MP and former state minister Lal Singh resigned from the party. Ahead of Assembly polls in J&K, the party may have a tough time as Singh has made allegations against senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad of interfering in the working of the party's state unit, while the NC and the Congress would fight the upcoming Assembly polls in the state alone. Singh, who hails from Kathua district, had won the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections as Congress candidate from Udhampur. He was elected to the state Assembly in 1996 and 2002, and had served as the Minister for Health and Medical Education in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led coalition government in 2003. The state has 87 Assembly seats. 

Also read: Rahul Gandhi vs Congress: 10 Janpath under siege

Birendra Singh
Haryana Congress leader Birendra Singh is rebelling against the state government and even demanded Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's ouster. But the party leadership feels that a last-minute leadership change would not alter the ground situation in the state. The assembly elections in the state are expected to be held later this year. According to reports, Birender Singh and several others, who have been pressing for Hooda’s ouster, are in touch with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. Singh had even reached out to the BJP and sought an appointment with party president Amit Shah. In the Haryana assembly elections in 2009, the Indian National Congress could not get majority, as it won 40 seats, falling five short of simple majority. 

West Bengal
Asit Mal, Mohammad Rabbani and Umapada Bauri
Along with the four states mentioned above, the Congress party suffered a severe jolt in West Bengal as three of its MLAs quit the party to join the ruling Trinamool Congress. The MLAs are Asit Mal (representing Hasan in Birbhum district), the chief whip of the Congress Legislature Party, Mohammad Ghulam Rabbani (Goalpokhor in North Dinajpur district) and Umapada Bauri (Para in Purulia district).

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