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Kota Neelima is the Political Editor of the Sunday Guardian.

Worried Congress checks up

he Congress has commissioned a survey to check the mood of the people in the country towards the UPA government, with special focus on states going to the Assembly elections this year, such as, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam.

Conducted under the supervision of the team dedicated to pre-poll preparations in the party's "war room", the survey will provide an index of "winnability" of sitting MLAs and probable candidates for the Assembly elections. Such an assessment will help the Congress in tying up favourable seat-sharing arrangements with coalition partners in these states.Image 2nd

The survey will also undertake the discreet exercise of finding out which state leader is to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate. In Kerala, initial reports indicate that among the Congress contenders for the post of Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy could be the frontrunner. In Assam, the survey will look for anti-incumbency trends against the Tarun Gogoi government and ways of neutralising them through candidate selection or alliances.

The UPA 2 government's image, along with its allies, has been seriously dented due to a series of scams that have hit the headlines now for over a year. The party survey will check the recall value among voters of major scams like 2G, CWG and Adarsh, and also whether they perceive that enough action has been taken against the guilty.

The survey will also question voters on satisfaction with different layers of administration from local or municipal to state and Central. After losing the debate on Central funds allocation with Bihar's Nitish Kumar in the crucial run-up to the Assembly elections last year, the Congress this time is arming itself with local knowledge to take on the Opposition.

Price rise, especially of food and fuel, poses another threat to the party's popularity across the country. With the end of harvest season and onset of summer, there might not be a major change in the prices of commodities. While the government might offer some palliative support through the Budget, the Parliament session itself is expected to be too stormy to make a positive impact. The survey is also questioning voters on what their views were on the disruption of the Winter Session of Parliament and who they held responsible for it.

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