New Delhi, May 19: The beleaguered Congress is debating whether the next general election can be held in November, six months ahead of schedule, senior party leaders said, reflecting an internal discussion in the party over whether to go for a fresh mandate or allow the shaky UPA II government to complete its full term.
The UPA II government, which has been reduced into a workable coalition following the withdrawal of some of its key allies over the last one or year and have been fighting a slew of scam charges each day.
There is, however, no consensus in the upper ranks of the party on when to seek the fresh mandate. Some say the slow economic growth needs more time to recover while others believe waiting till 2014 could be a tactical error.
The Congress-led UPA government came to power in 2004 and won the next parliamentary elections in 2009. Its popularity has touched the nadir after a series of corruption charges started tainting its credibility soon after it took charge of the office for the second time.
When asked why the struggling coalition should continue in office, one Congress leader said the government has some commitment to the people. But there are others who believe that the Congress should not wait too late before going to the polls and try to capitalise on the positive results in the recent Karnataka assembly polls. The Congress returned to power in the southern state after a gap of seven years.
Elections by this year-end would be welcomed by the business community as a new government is believed to b reducing political risk, said an economist. The lifeline of the current regime depends largely on the two Uttar Pradesh-based parties, namely, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party and any U-turn by these unpredictable parties can lead to the downfall of the government.
The Congress could still come to power for the third consecutive term since the main opposition party, BJP, has been rattled by infighting and is yet to put its house in order.
Speculation about early polls has intensified after the government launched an advertising campaign this week in support of its achievements over the past nine years. The timing and big size of the 'Bharat Nirman' advertising campaign made election experts speculate that the polls might not be far away.
The decision will also depend on the results of the assembly elections in Delhi, Rajashthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, scheduled later this year.
The final call will be taken by party chief Sonia Gandhi, said Congress sources.