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Cong 2014 dilemma: To go for pre-poll alliances or not
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi would ideally like the Congress to go it alone in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but the party is also aware that it is not possible to avoid pre-poll alliances given the political ground reality that does not favour the “ekla chalo” line.

Alluding to this, AICC general secretary Digivijay Singh, member of the six-member election coordination panel headed by Rahul Gandhi, said the sub-group on pre-poll alliances constituted yesterday will examine the specific political situation in each state and suggest the subsequent course of action. The fact that a six-member sub-group on pre-poll alliances, headed by Defence Minister AK Antony, has been set up indicates that the Congress realises the necessity of forging electoral pacts.

The Rahul Gandhi-led coordination panel has already met four times over the past month to identify the challenges facing the Congress and the strategy to be adopted in the 2014 polls.

Rahul Gandhi is known to be of firm view that if Congress is to revive and regain its support base, it should not have pre-poll alliances. His view prevailed in the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh elections when the party took a conscious decision to go solo, but with disastrous results.

Digivijay, also in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, said there was no change in the party’s policy as far as this state is concerned, but it may not be possible to extend the same to other states.”The ideal situation would be to contest the elections on our own but it is also a reality that there has been no single party government in the last 22 years,” he said, adding that the pre-poll sub-group will also look at the possibility of expanding the UPA.

However, he lamented that compulsions of coalition politics make it difficult for the lead party to fulfill its agenda as national issues tend to get sidelined. This has been the bane of the UPA II dispensation, as the ruling combine could not pursue its agenda because of pressure from allies who have even extended their veto power to the foreign policy domain.

The ruling combine’s policy on Sri Lanka is dictated by its ally DMK while Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress effectively stalled the Teesta river water agreement with Bangladesh. Mamata Banerjee eventually walked when the government decided to push ahead with its reforms agenda, including its policy on FDI in retail.

Another major challenge before the Congress, Digvijay said, is the rise of political parties based on religious fundamentalism. The Congress leader, who flagged this issue at the recent ‘Samvad Baithak’ at Surajkund, said while the BJP and the Shiv Sena represented the Right-wing Hindu ideology, parties such as the Peace Party, AUDF and Welcome Party set up by Muslim fundamentalists. Not only do these parties create a Hindu-Muslim polarisation, but they have also succeeded in disturbing the minority support base of the Congress by taking away a substantial chunk of votes. 





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