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Sonia, Pawar say alliance possible
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi |
January 15, 2004 20:28 IST
Last Updated: January 16, 2004 00:32 IST
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her Nationalist Congress Party counterpart Sharad Pawar announced in Delhi that they are exploring the possibility of entering into an alliance to fight the National Democratic Alliance.
"The meeting was successful," Gandhi told reporters after the 40-minute meeting with Pawar who said, "Our discussion was mainly about elections and the possibility of providing a viable alternative to the people."
He said the process of preparing the Congress and the NCP to jointly fight the forthcoming parliamentary elections has begun. He hoped that more like-minded parties would join this process.
The two leaders refused to be drawn into answering questions on contentious issues, especially that of Gandhi's foreign origins and Pawar's return to the Congress.
Pawar left the Congress along with former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A Sangma and Tariq Anwar in 1999, making an issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origins.
"We are not raising this particular subject at this juncture," the NCP chief said adding, "For any political party there are a number of issues. But when you have to sit together, you have to keep certain issues aside."
Another contentious issue is the opposition's prime ministerial candidate, which Pawar insists should be decided after the result of the general election is out.
The Congress insists that only Gandhi can be the prime ministerial candidate but she herself has relegated the issue to the backburner in an apparent bid to rally as many opposition parties as possible against the NDA.
Earlier, Pawar consented to meet Gandhi after being authorised on Wednesday by his party's working committee to do so.