Congress ambivalent on alliance option

Despite the slide in its electoral fortunes beginning with the Lok Sabha polls, Congress sought to remain ambivalent on the question of "going it alone" even as party leaders spoke of the silver lining in the results of the just-concluded Assembly Elections.

New Delhi: Despite the slide in its electoral fortunes beginning with the Lok Sabha polls, Congress sought to remain ambivalent on the question of "going it alone" even as party leaders spoke of the silver lining in the results of the just-concluded Assembly Elections.

Although there is a growing chorus for the party to take the solo line in the changed scenario, Congress is still assessing the strategy to counter BJP as the saffron party takes the centrestage in national politics.

"We will not abandon the option of alliances arbitrarily, neither will we say no to the 'go it alone' policy altogether," said a senior party leader who insisted that the political dynamic differed from state to state.

The Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a "silver lining" in the results of the Assembly Elections in Maharashtra, where it lost power and finished third on the poll table behind BJP and Shiv Sena.

"We are expanding in the whole of Maharashtra unlike in the last 15 years, when we were not contesting altogether on around 124 of the total 288 Assembly seats in the state which sends 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha", he said, adding that part of the agenda for revival is that the party should make its presence felt all over the state.

Before their partnership collapsed ahead of the 2014 Assembly polls, Congress was in alliance in Maharashtra since 1999 with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was formed by Sharad Pawar after he parted ways with the party on the issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin.

As to Haryana, the leader said that the Dalits and other non-Jat votes in the state had gone to BJP this time while the Jat vote on which Congress was banking got divided between itself and INLD.

However, he added that whatever way the BJP decides its leader, the Congress would benefit as it would get the backing of the sections which have not got the chief ministership. Results also show that INLD is not the prime beneficiary of Jat votes, he said.

In Maharashtra, BJP was the main choice for the north Indian voters after it parted ways with Sena while the Maratha vote got divided into three parts, the leader added.

Recently, a number of leaders from Bihar, including DCC chiefs, met the leadership here and voiced opposition to any alliance. The party is giving outside support to the JD-U government in the state. The state government also has the support of Lalu Prasad's RJD with which Congress had fought the Lok Sabha polls.

In the recent Assembly bypolls, Bihar had witnessed non- BJP parties JD-U, RJD and Congress coming together in the wake of the good show by BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

In Uttar Pradesh, the party is expected to be forced to go solo, which is the likely scenario in Tamil Nadu as well.

"In Uttar Pradesh, no party wants to align with us and we have distanced ourselves from RLD," said another leader.

Congress had come to power at the Centre in May, 2004, via the coalition route after Gandhi embraced the idea of bringing together secular forces after eight years in the political wilderness.

The Shimla Conclave in 2003 had changed the party line in vogue since the Pachmarhi Conclave of 1998 that coalitions are a transient phase in politics. 

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