Rivals have dubbed the Congress-led alliance as the coalition that dare not speak its leader’s name. A taunt that constituents of the "secular" front prefer not to respond to, except to say that the issue will be decided after the polls. But within the Congress party, all eyes are increasingly drawn to the silent, low-key figure always at Sonia Gandhi’s elbow these days—Dr Manmohan Singh.
For an apolitical person, he has been loaded with a great deal of political responsibility. He is negotiating two of the three most important alliances undertaken by the Congress: with the DMK in Tamil Nadu and the NCP in Maharashtra. He is a member of every important election committee set up by Sonia: on political affairs, the manifesto, alliances, strategy and fund-raising. He also keeps an eye on Kashmir and Northeast affairs. All this, apart from being a Congress Working Committee member and head of the AICC Economic Affairs cell, as well as Sonia’s counterpart in the Rajya Sabha—leader of Opposition.