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Respect coalition dharma: Congress
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Rajiv Nagar (Hyderabad), January 22
The Congress today reiterated its commitment to the coalition politics but, at the same time, sent out a strong message to its allies that they should not go beyond constructive criticism as they also have a responsibility to keep an alliance intact.

This message was contained in the party’s political resolution moved by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh at the AICC plenary session today. Aimed primarily at the Left parties, which have a penchant for airing their grievances in public, the resolution said all partners should adhere to a coalition dharma, follow a “basic discipline” and refrain from going public with their criticism.

“In their anxiety to protect and project their own individual party line, if any coalition partner crosses or is seen to be crossing the limits of constructive criticism, then the coalition is weakened and its public credibility eroded. There is a thing called collective responsibility,’’ the resolution said.

Compulsions of heading a coalition government have necessarily restrained the Congress from taking any potshots at its partners, unlike at the 2001 Bangalore session when its political resolution had been sharply critical of both the Left parties and the DMK. This time round, however, the Congress has been forced to redefine its relations with them as both are a critical components of the UPA government.

The draft resolution recognised the need to strengthen the Congress in states where its support base has been substantially eroded but did not name the states where the party has to be revived. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were the states which found no mention in the resolution although Congress President Sonia Gandhi has periodically expressed concern over the Congress’ steady marginalisation in these two crucial states.

Despite all constraints, the political resolution did not shy away from mentioning that despite the critical support being extended by the Left parties to the UPA government at the Centre, the Congress will remain unrelenting in its battle against its political opponents in states like Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura.

“The Congress will aggressively confront and fight the Left in these three states,” the resolution stated, while ruling out any understanding or compromise with them. In fact, the party even went to the extent of mentioning that despite its commitment to coalition politics at the Centre and in some states, it is determined to return to power on its own steam.

Endorsing this stance in his speech on the political resolution, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi also claimed ownership of the pro-poor plank, which has been successfully hijacked by the Left parties.The minister, who is locked in a battle with the CPM government in West Bengal, maintained that the Congress has always followed a Left-of-Centre agenda and recalled how it was Indira Gandhi who took the bold step of nationalising private banks.

While promising to engage the Left in a “do-or-die” battle in the states, the Congress rejected all calls for a “mahajot” or a grand alliance with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress for ousting the West Bengal Government, stating categorically that it will welcome an alliance with any party in these states provided it has no direct or indirect truck with the BJP.


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