The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fallen Five

New Delhi, Dec. 4: Ambika Soni, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, Amarinder Singh, Motilal Vora — the list of heroes who plotted the Congress’ return to power in Himachal Pradesh 10 months ago is long.

But in the face of the reverses in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh today, the star strategists are under the scanner. All of them and chief ministers Ashok Gehlot, Ajit Jogi and Digvijay Singh are likely to be examined by the rank and file on the debacle, especially with Lok Sabha elections due next year.

Down the line, there are several foot soldiers disappointed that their efforts came to naught. They were asked to keep an ear to the ground and provide feedback for the leadership to evolve effective poll strategies. Among them are AICC secretary B.K. Hariprasad and central observers Prithviraj Chavan, Hrishikesh Bahadur, Ashwini Kumar and P.K. Bansal.

Until the beginning of the poll process two months ago, it seemed their views were taken seriously. The observers in Rajasthan were unanimous that at least a third of the 153 sitting MLAs ought to be changed. The MLAs were even identified. But this had no bearing on the candidates eventually picked.

The observers in Chhattisgarh had warned against converting the polls into a Jogi-versus-the rest battle. “In Chhattisgarh, the Congress is a formidable force, far more formidable than Jogi the individual. But we ended up allowing the party identity to submerge in the identity of Jogi,” rued one of them.

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