Dehra Dun : The mountain states of Himachal and Uttarakhand, both of which have BJP governments, could well be the testing ground for the Congress party which is in the opposition. The vidhan sabha elections in Uttarakhand in coming February and later in November next year in Himachal could well prove to be the litmus test for the popularity of the party.
Perhaps realizing this, the party is preparing the grounds for a solid performance at the hustings and an ensuring that it gets to power in both the state. And despite the fact that there will be the incumbency factor at work against the Dhumal government in Himachal and Khaduri government in Himachal, but it is not likely to be a cake walk for the Congress in both the states either.
The biggest factor that will be at work according to political observers is the Anna factor, which could bring a change about in the fortunes of the Congress. This is perhaps why the Congress-led UPA government at the centre is working overtime to undermine the Anna Hazare team by leveling various allegations against the core members of the group, in a bid to overcome the Anna factor.
However the biggest bane of the Congress in the past elections has been the bitter infighting within the party. It is said and not without reason that the Congress loses because of itself and not any other reasons. The various factions that go to work during elections is one of the major reasons that the Congress candidates lose and the party high command is all bent to ensure that it does not happen this time.
It has already sent the message by suspending from the party Congressmen in Uttar Pradesh who had blocked the yatra of AICC gen secretary Rahul Gandhi on their not being considered for the party ticket. By and large this message will send the message that such show of dissent on not getting the party ticket will not be tolerated by the high command and prospective candidates should bide by the party list.
However, in both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh this is not going to be an easy task. It is not only the fact that the party in both the states is divided into three factions, despite the state party leadership denying this, but there is no clear cut chief minister candidate in sight. Whereas in Himachal, Virbhadra is the man to watch out in Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna is the dark horse.
But the real test of the party in both these small hill states will lie in the distribution of tickets, which is not going to be an easy job. Despite the fact that the party high command has already made a screening committee at the centre for the Uttarakhand elections under union minister of commerce Anand Sharma, but he being a rank outsider to Uttarakhand politics may not find the task so easy.
Meanwhile party sources confided that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were closely monitoring the developments to the run up to the vidhan sabha elections in Uttarakhand which are just about three months away. It is with their planning that the message of development is being spread by the state Congress leaders to undo the tirade of corruption unleashed by the BJP. Eventually the fight may narrow down to development versus corruption, which is what the Congress wants.