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Will Congress stoop to conquer?
Shahid K Abbas in Shimla |
July 08, 2003 20:15 IST
The Congress seems to have realised that the days of one-party rule are as good as over.
The party that had declared at its Pachmarhi conclave in 1998 that the era of coalition politics is transient may now be willing to fight the next general election in the company of regional parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
The subcommittee discussing the political challenges before the party at the three-day Vichar Manthan Shivir in Shimla has decided to authorise Congress president Sonia Gandhi to clinch alliances with 'secular' parties, but suggested that there must be flexibility in the approach as 'politics is a dynamic reality that keeps revolving'.
The draft of the 'Shimla Declaration', which awaits final endorsement by the Congress Working Committee, authorises Gandhi to initiate discussions with 'secular' parties with an open mind.
The draft argues that regional parties should acknowledge the strength of the Congress and accept Gandhi as the leader of any formation that shapes up.
Gandhi will release the declaration during her closing speech on Wednesday.
The draft talks, in detail, about secularism and reservations and advises the party to incorporate these issues in the declaration.
The group that discussed the draft argued that while the Congress has to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party on issues like Hindutva, it also has to counter charges of being a minority appeaser.
The draft suggests that reservations in the private sector must be increased and welcomes the reservations offered to the upper castes in Rajasthan and to other backward castes in Madhya Pradesh.
The paper also includes the Ayodhya issue and reiterates the party line that it should be resolved through a court verdict.
The paper dwells on the lack of defence preparedness, saying the country is unsafe in the hands of the National Democratic Alliance government.
It calls for periodic review of the commitment given by the government to the World trade Organisation.
Divender Dwivedi, Mani Shankar Aiyer and J N Dixit had prepared the background paper for the draft while Arjun Singh had chaired the sitting.