Congress' defeat in Guj may affect party's prospects in Mah

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Mumbai, Dec 23 (UNI) After facing embarrassing defeats in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, the Congress, which is leading the coalition government in Maharashtra, may have to rethink its strategy for the second largest state in the country if it does not want the repeat of the cycle to mar its prospects in the polls in 2009.

''After today's defeat in the Gujarat assembly polls, Congress has to rethink its strategy in Maharashtra,'' according to political analysts.

Maharashtra has a sizeable section of dalit votes in every constituency and the rise in popularity of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party is also a worrying factor for Congress, they said.

On Friday, State Revenue Minister Narayan Rane had cast aspersion on Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's capability and even had gone to New Delhi to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi as a prospective candidate for the post. However, on his return last night, Mr Rane told reporters that he was not revolting against Mr Deshmukh's leadership and said that he was narrating the sentiments of the people.

Earlier, after Congress' defeat in Gujarat in December 2002, Mr Deshmukh was removed from his post and he was replaced by Sushilkumar Shinde, who was made the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2003 after Mayawati came to power in Uttar Pradesh and Narendra Modi in Gujarat in 2002.

It may be recalled that Mr Deshmukh personally campaigned in various districts of Gujarat and perhaps was the only Congress Chief Minister to devote time for campaigning in a politically sensitive state.

Now, more or less similar situation exists, as Mayawati is ruling the largest state in the country with an absolute majority, while Mr Modi has achieved the same in Gujarat.

UNI

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