Oct 152012

New Delhi: The political problems of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) compounded over the weekend.

Not only did it suffer a landslide defeat in one by-election to the Lok Sabha, in another its high profile candidate could manage but a humiliatingly narrow win, even while its critics stepped up their political attacks. In the latest round of allegations to be levelled against the Congress, its law minister Salman Khurshid, despite a vehement denial, is struggling to extricate himself from the damaging allegations of misappropriation of government funds by a charity run by him and his wife Louise for disabled people.

All of this comes in the backdrop of similar charges levelled by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress party president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

In a politically vitiated atmosphere, the latest round of charges, together with the raft of allegations of misuse of office by some cabinet ministers is, as analysts point out, exacting a political price from the Congress. The bad press could further damage the party’s prospects in key elections to the state assemblies of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds the upper hand.

“After all this, the Congress is on the backfoot and it would actually have to devise a new counter strategy to deal with it,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst. “A mass perception is created that the Congress is losing and that is the worst thing that can happen to any party, especially if it is the ruling party.”

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