New Delhi, Sept. 19: The Congress might have dismissed opinion polls as inconsequential but its own survey has struck alarm in the leadership, sources said.
An internal survey conducted in states where the Congress did well in the 2009 parliamentary elections shows a sharp decline in popular support, the sources said.
Andhra Pradesh, where the Congress won 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, has barely one winnable seat in the present circumstances. In Uttar Pradesh, where the party bagged 22 of the 80 seats, the tally could fall below 10.
The details of the survey, which was meant for the use of the top leadership, were not shared even with all AICC general secretaries.
But many leaders accepted in informal conversations that even without the survey’s results, it was clear that the situation was bad.
One senior leader told The Telegraph: “There is a distinct fear that we will lose a large number of seats. The entire focus is on limiting the damage and nobody is talking about increasing the 2009 count of 206 seats.”
Although some leaders argue that the situation would improve as prices of food, particularly vegetables, come down and the economy shows signs of revival, they concede that political mismanagement has contributed to the slide.
One senior leader pointed to the leadership’s failure to extract a commitment from TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao for a merger with the Congress before announcing the Telangana decision. Rao has now not only ruled out a merger but is non-committal even on an alliance with the Congress. He is talking of a post-poll alliance, which is meaningless.
The Congress is aware the TRS leadership has been approached by BJP leader Narendra Modi, who is also in touch with the Telugu Desam Party. Without a TRS alliance, the Congress would be vulnerable in the 19 seats in Telangana. Its fortunes in the rest of Andhra are anyway in tatters, given the anti-Telangana mood as well as the Jagan factor.
Many Congress MPs are seriously considering floating a new outfit and contesting elections under an anti-Telangana banner to salvage some political space. While some leaders are negotiating with Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress, even chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is said to be supportive of the idea of floating a new outfit.
Congress leaders also acknowledge a crisis in Chhattisgarh where former chief minister Ajit Jogi is sulking and a section of central leaders do not support a compromise with him.
The possibility of a Left surge in Kerala and heavy losses in Rajasthan are weighing heavy on the party’s mind.
Only Karnataka and Assam look good although gains are expected in Jharkhand and Odisha too, the sources said.
But some leaders hold the Congress would do much better in the year-end Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi than expected and that would change the nation’s mood.
There is also a view that Modi is peaking too early and the worst is almost over for the Congress.
Reacting sharply to the doom merchants, one party general secretary said: “Six-seven months mean a very big period in politics. A lot of things will happen before the elections and surveys at this stage only serve the purpose of alarm bells. We know the situation is not good and we have started taking steps.”