Cong coping with decision-deficit in states

New Delhi: After the debacle in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is now having to deal with the problem of some of its Chief Ministers — "decision deficits" and dissidents.

With the UPA government finishing almost three years of its second term at the Centre, the Congress is worried over the state of affairs in some of the states ahead of the next elections.

The party high command has given `buckup` calls to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as also the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kirankumar Reddy.

Dissidents from Rajasthan have been coming to Delhi to campaign against the continuance of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who has completed three years of his second term and faces Assembly polls next year. Gehlot has to depend on Independents this time, unlike his comfortable majority in 1998.

Vijay Bahuguna has failed to settle so far as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand with Union Minister Harish Rawat, who was widely perceived to get the top post, breathing down his neck.

A month in office, Bahuguna, a Lok Sabha MP, has so far not declared from which constituency he would contest and who would vacate the seat for him. He has been keeping Rawat in good humour to ensure stability.

The latest development is in Kerala where Chief Minister Oommen Chandy`s expansion of his 11-month old ministry by bringing in an additional Indian Union of Muslim League member, upsetting the communal balance with the state Congress angry over the sudden move.

Congress spokespersons, however, dismiss suggestions that the Chief Ministers were a problem for the party. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party would not have been re-elected in many of the states if there were any genuine or serious problem.

The mood in Delhi, where Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is in office for the last 14 years, would be known in municipal elections being held today.

In a wake-up call for the Maharashtra Chief Minister, the Congress high command has told Chavan to quickly get his act together or else it would be forced to look for a replacement.

"The Chief Minister`s post is not like working in the PMO. In states, things just do not happen unless you take decisions", a senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, said.

The remarks are significant as Chavan was Minister of state in the PMO before being made the Chief Minister in November 2010 after the exit of Ashok Chavan in the wake of the Adarsh Housing Scam.

The message from the high command to Chavan was that only honesty will not do and it needed competence too. More worrying is the situation in Andhra Pradesh which is the only major state where Congress is in power on its own and which has sent 30-odd MPs to the Lok Sabha.

Kiran Kumar Reddy has not shown the leadership qualities after being made the Chief Minister in November, 2010.

Eighteen Assembly bypolls are expected soon and they have given a nightmare to the party leadership at a time when Jaganmohan Reddy is on the ascendancy and the Telangana statehood issue refuses to die down.

A section in Congress feels both Reddy and Chavan cannot lead the party in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra scheduled for 2014.

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the northeast and Haryana have not posed trouble for the party as compared to the other party-ruled states.