Congress sub-group on electoral alliance meets



New Delhi: In the run up to Lok Sabha polls possible earlier than scheduled, Congress on Friday began the search for new allies and friends to help it retain power for a third consecutive time.

Headed by Defence Minister AK Antony, the sub-group on pre-poll alliances, at its first meeting here, deliberated on the current political situation and the way forward for the party in the context on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"This was the first meeting of the sub-group on pre-poll alliances...We discussed the current political situation... In UPA-I, we had some allies...In UPA-II, we have some allies. Some have left us, some have joined us," AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.

He said the sub-group on pre-poll alliances would continue its deliberations on the political situation and the party's response to it.

Dwivedi said all the sub-groups were formed for the 2014 elections and the current political situation would be analysed in that context.

The speculation in political circles is that Lok Sabha elections could be held by year-end along with assembly elections in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Besides Antony and Dwivedi, the meeting was attended by Mukul Wasnik, Mohan Prakash and Jitendra Singh.

"We are prepared to face elections anytime," Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said when asked whether the general budget this year would be the last one to be presented by UPA government.

The sub-group meeting on the issue of coalition took place over a week after the party's two-day Chintan Shivir at Jaipur gave a call for uniting secular forces.

At the briefing, Chowdhury was ambivalent on the new allies of Congress. The sub-group is part of the Congress Coordination Committee headed by Rahul Gandhi for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Antony has been the Chief Minister of Kerala, which has seen Congress in alliance mode for a long time under the banner of United Democratic Front.

Several ministers, including P Chidmabaram and Manish Tewari, have already said they recognise the reality of the coalitions.

Parties like RJD, LJP were part of UPA-I while Left parties had extended outside support to the ruling coalition between 2004-2008.

Congress has been heading a coalition government at the Centre since 2004. While Jaipur Declaration of Congress asked all secular and progressive forces to unite in an ideological battle against those who polarise and divide the society, the party chief Sonia Gandhi gave a message for striking a fine balance between forging alliances and strengthening the party.

PTI