The winning formula for the Congress has always had a dual thrust—a mix of its leader's charisma and the grassroots strength of the party organisation. As far as charisma goes, the party's newly-inducted star campaigner, Sonia Gandhi, has it in ample measure—derivative or otherwise. She has been attracting impressive crowds and, due to a history that is at once personal and national, her appeal has a certain emotive edge. But when it comes to organisational support—an earth-linked network that can encash on her vote-catching power—the Congress doesn't seem to have got its act together in several key states. The leader may be a winner but the organisation seems to be failing her.
Infighting still seems to be dogging the party. Rival factions refuse to see eye to eye. Despite the unifying effect that Congressmen claim Sonia's entry has had, the various camps within the party have not disbanded. After almost a decade of fractious existence without a Nehru-Gandhi clan figure at the top, cohesion does not seem to be coming easily. Veteran Congressmen point out that if the party does not put up a unified act in the final round of the campaign beginning this week, its prospects may not be as bright as the party estimated when Sonia embarked on the first leg.