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How to beat NaMo: Congress mulls alliances route

March 17, 2017 09:03 IST

'Wait for 2019, there will be no space for the BJP in UP'
Amit Agnihotri reports.

Strategic alliances, rather than building up a national narrative against the Bharatiya Janata Party, should be the focus of the Congress ahead of the 2019 general election, party strategists feel.

The Congress, which was keen to present the recent five assembly polls as a 3:2 match, had to be content with 1:4 after the BJP manipulated smaller parties to form governments in Goa and Manipur.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi charged the BJP of using money power to block his party from coming to power in the two states.

After Congress veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar suggested going back to the 2003 formula under which party chief Sonia Gandhi forged strategic alliances and took back power from the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in 2004, senior leader C P Joshi expressed similar views.

Noting the political narrative has changed in the country, Joshi cited the example of the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 where a Janata Dal-United-Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress grand alliance defeated the BJP-led NDA.

According to Joshi, a similar formation could have stopped the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, but Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati played spoilsport.

Doing some number crunching, the Congress leader said that while the BJP vote share in UP dropped from 43 per cent in 2014 to 39 per cent in 2017, the SP plus Congress vote share is around 29 per cent.

If the BSP's 23 percent was added, the SP, BSP, Congress combined vote share would be 53 per cent, much ahead of the saffron party.

"Wait for 2019, there will be no space for the BJP in UP," said Joshi.

In contrast, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury favoured building up a national narrative against the BJP through a dialogue between like minded parties and public movements on the ground.

According to Yechury, doing maths is a more academic exercise while mobilising popular support in favour of a political philosophy is what will educate voters and bring about a change in her/his preferences.

Citing the example of West Bengal, where the Congress had an informal seat adjustment with Yechury's party, Joshi said a convergence of non-BJP votes will have to be worked at.

"We will do everything that is required to challenge and expose Modi politics, but political challenges vary from state to state," said Joshi.

When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance defeated the BJP-led NDA in the 2004 national polls, the Left parties supported the formation from outside till 2008 when they pulled out over the India-US civil nuclear deal.

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Amit Agnihotri