Alliances issue likely to come up in big way at Congress meet
New Delhi: The issue of alliances is expected to come up in a big way at the Congress Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in January in the backdrop of a series of electoral drubbings and the Lok Sabha polls less than 18 months away.
An indication that there is a re-thinking in the party over 'go it alone policy' was evident with the recent setting up of an election coordination committee with Rahul Gandhi heading the high-level panel.
One of the three sub-groups set up along with the high-powered committee is to deal with the issue of alliances with Defence Minister AK Antony at the helm.
There is a growing feeling in the party that the alliances cannot be wished away at this juncture as coalition era is here to stay.
Senior party leader and Finance Minister P Chidambaram had only recently said that alliances are inevitable.
"Let us do a reality check. The reality is that there are many many political parties especially at the state level. Alliances are inevitable. If you do not have a pre-poll alliance, you end up with a post-poll alliance.
"In fact, there is hardly any government in India today, except maybe one or two which are not coalition governments. Therefore, a committee to explore pre-poll alliances is an acknowledgement of the political reality," he had said.
He was replying to a question about the Congress forming a committee to look at the issue of pre-poll alliances and whether it suggests that the party is desperate for allies.
After securing more than 200 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and improving its tally substantially, Congress has failed to make a mark in some key assembly elections including in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu despite the go alone chorus.
The UPA-I had not witnessed any such brainstorming session since UPA II came to power. The Congress has however, held two such sessions in the recent past.
Incidentally, Pachmarhi conclave was the brainchild of Sonia Gandhi, who had taken over as party chief a few months earlier in April 1998 from the late Sitaram Kesari when the party was going through a bad patch politically.
At Pachmarhi, Congress had taken an ambivalent position on the issue of coalitions noting that the country was passing through a transient phase.
The Shimla conclave was held in 2003 and the Shimla resolve calling for unity of all secular forces resulted in the ouster of the BJP-led NDA in mid 2004 under the leadership of Gandhi.
At the plenary in Burari, Gandhi had made it clear that the party's future will be shaped "not by a magic wand or any single individual".
"Throughout its history, the Congress has been a party of ideas responding to changing political and economic circumstances. I firmly believe that we must periodically introspect together and if necessary reassess our position on critical issues to keep pace with the time," she had said.