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Home > News > PTI

'Open mind' on alliances with like-minded parties: Congress

January 05, 2003 23:59 IST

Shaken by the Gujarat poll debacle, a chastened Congress on Sunday said it has an 'open mind'on alliances with like-minded political parties in the states going to assemblypolls this year.

Dismissing suggestions that Congress lost Gujarat because of adopting a 'soft Hindutva stance', party president Sonia Gandhi blamed the loss on a 'hate-filled campaign' and asked partymen to be 'extremely alert and vigilant' in the coming assembly polls.

In her opening remarks at the day-long meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Delhi, the first since the Gujarat poll, Sonia Gandhi asked partymen to be prepared to face ideological and political challenges in the year ahead even as the CWC in a resolution condemned the 'sinister attempts' being made by the BJP to equate Hinduism with Hindutva.

"The varying interpretations of the term Hindutva being deliberately given by the BJP and its affiliates reveal a diabolical design to confuse, mislead and misguide the people," the CWC said.

Debunking charges that the Congress was soft on terrorism, Gandhi attacked the BJP-led coalition at the Centre for 'passing on its own failure on the opposition in the country'.

Gandhi insisted on distinction between liberal tradition of Hinduism and Hindutva propounded by Sangh Parivar and said secularism in the country was best protected when best liberal traditions was celebrated.

In a resolution passed after the over 7-hour-long meeting, the CWC said the BJP's election campaign in Gujarat broke all rules, norms and conventions of democratic discourse and debate.

"The substance and style of their campaign has grave implications for the country as a whole," the resolution said adding "The CWC believes that the BJP's campaign in other states going to the polls would be no different from what it was in Gujarat."

The Working Committee expresses its determination to counter such a campaign with all its might and appealed to the rank and file of the Congress and all right thinking people across the country 'to remain steadfast, disciplined and united in the ideological struggle against BJP', it said.

"We certainly have to be alert because of the very pronouncedtendency of the BJP and its sister organisations to communalise and polarise society," Sonia Gandhi told reporters afterthe meeting.

She said the BJP and its sister organisations have done it in the past and there 'is every possibility of them repeating it in other states' going to polls this year and later.

A detailed review of the Gujarat poll debacle saw some members making it plain that the party needed to learn a
lesson from the experience and take appropriate corrective steps, party sources said.

However, Sonia Gandhi refused to reveal the party's strategy to counter the BJP's Hindutva card.

The meeting saw Sonia Gandhi asking senior leader Manmohan Singh to prepare a report on the Gujarat debacle after AICC general secretary Kamal Nath, who is in charge of the state, presented his version of the possible causes.

She said the CWC meeting also reviewed the preparations for the assembly elections in four states, three in the north-east and Himachal Pradesh.

"We will do everything in our power to see that the secular vote is not divided, subject to reasonable appreciation of the ground realities," party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told reporters afterthe meeting.

The remarks on alliances assume significance in the wake of reports that the party is considering a tie-up with the Himachal Vikas Congress, led by former Union minister Sukh Ram, in the coming assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh.

Besides, the NCP, a coalition partnerin the Congress-led government in Maharashtra, had recently wanted the Congress to make its stand clear on a pre-poll alliance to take on the Shiv Sena-BJP combine during the 2004 assembly poll.

On its failure to cobble up a front against the BJP in Gujarat, Reddy said the party did have a tie-up with the CPI and CPI-M but not with others as per the advice of its Gujarat unit.

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