Rahul Gandhi to meet state Cong leaders, may discuss alliance issue
New Delhi: With Lok Sabha polls not far away, the issue of alliance in six major states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, is expected to figure during the meeting Rahul Gandhi will have with state Congress leaders this week.
The meeting with PCC presidents and CLP leaders on February 15 also assumes significance as Assembly elections are due this year in nine states.
Congress is in direct contest with BJP in five states - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi, besides Karnataka.
Gandhi, who has been recently elevated as Vice-President of the party, could pay special attention to the problems and prospects in the six major states as they together account for some 291 seats in the Lok Sabha, more than half of its total strength of 543.
While Uttar Pradesh has 80 seats, Maharashtra has 48, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have 42 each, Bihar 40 and Tamil Nadu 39.
Congress has already begun search for new allies and friends to help it retain power for a third consecutive time by constituting a sub-group on pre-poll alliances headed by Defence Minister AK Antony. The sub-group had its first meeting last week.
The sub-group is part of the Congress Election Coordination Committee which is headed by Gandhi.
Gandhi's interaction with the PCC chiefs has been planned to understand first hand the state of the organisation in the states.
In Uttar Pradesh, Congress had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls on its own after failure to strike a deal with the Samajwadi Party despite several rounds of talks. Congress had sprung a surprise by securing as many as 22 seats giving signs of revival in the key state.
But, in the UP Assembly polls last year, Congress hopes were dashed as it could secure just 28 seats in the 403-member House despite forging an alliance with Ajit Singh's RLD.
Bihar is another cup of woe for Congress in the last two decades and it had been in alliance with Lalu Prasad's RJD till the last Lok Sabha elections. At that time, Prasad and LJP headed by Ram Vilas Paswan joined hands forcing Congress to contest alone without much success.
Similar was the party's fate in the Assembly polls held two years back when it again practised go-it-alone policy.
In Maharashtra, Congress is in alliance with NCP for the last 15 years sharing power in the state since 1999 and at the Centre since 2004.
In Tamil Nadu, Congress has been in alliance with DMK since 2004. The tie up failed to perform in the Assembly polls in early 2011 held in the backdrop of the 2G scam.
In West Bengal, the Congress had contested the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in an alliance with Trinamool Congress. The Mamata Banerjee-led party has parted ways with Congress both at the Centre and in the state.
Andhra Pradesh is the only major state where the Congress is in power on its own. Its base has suffered considerably with the emergence of YSR Congress and the demand for separate Telangana.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, spearheading the statehood cause, has expressed readiness to merge in Congress if it forms a separate state.