A weakened Congress will face UP ballot
The party would be grateful that the verdict of the voters in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur was sealed in the ballot boxes before the apex court's judgment. Otherwise, the impact of its suspected indulgence in "crony capitalism", as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged, might have been considerable.
But the Congress' main worry will be on the popular reaction in UP, not only because it is the biggest state which is seen to indicate who will rule in Delhi but also because the party's heir-apparent, Rahul Gandhi, has invested so much of his own and his party's political capital on achieving success in the state. If the party falters, it cannot but undermine Rahul's chances of rising further up the political ladder.
Of the two factors - caste and corruption - which are crucial in UP, Rahul's focus has been mainly on the latter although the fact that he is not averse to playing the caste card was evident when he reminded the audience that Sam Pitroda, chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, was born in a carpenter's family.
The Congress has also been trying to wean away the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) - Koeris, Lohars, Nishads, Mallahs and so on - from the Yadav-dominated Other Backward Castes (OBCs) to undercut Mulayam Singh Yadav, and the ati-Dalits (where 'ati' stands for extreme) like Passis, Koris, Doms and others from the Jatav or Chamar-dominated Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Chief Minister Mayawati.