With election results just around the corner, Congress is floating the idea of an ‘enlarged’ United Progressive Alliance-III taking on board new allies and keeping their options open on leadership issues to stop Narendra Modi.
“All options are on the table. It all depends upon the numbers we and the Bharatiya Janata Party get and the margin between them,” said a senior Congress leader, who wished to remain anonymous.
He insisted that the Congress cannot abandon its role as a responsible national party to ensure that a stable government is in place and would work in that direction along with all like-minded parties.
The shape of things to come depended upon what kind of mandate is received by regional parties and which of them get more seats, as there are some which cannot join hands with Modi in any eventuality.
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“The issue of leadership will come later,” added the Congress leader, saying they were open to the idea of not insisting on the lead role if the numbers demanded.
At the same time, a sizeable section in the party is insisting that the Congress should participate to give the government not only stability but also strength and expertise. “We are pragmatic enough to understand that no one having just 20 seats will try to lead a party of 100 plus,” he said, adding that the Congress is of the view that its numbers are going to be significantly less than the last polls.
There is also a section in the party which wants the Congress to sit in the opposition if it does not have respectable numbers to form the government. The leader, however, felt that things have changed since 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi had chosen to sit in the opposition despite the Congress emerging as the single largest party. Rajiv Gandhi felt that it was a major repudiation of Congress with the tally coming down more than half of the 415 it secured in 1984. The Congress leader added, “Why should we shut the door? There will be enough parties, which will come out to support us,” the leader claimed.
Rejecting the idea of extending outside support to a Third Front to form government to stop Modi, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh had earlier said that the tail cannot wag the body. Singh had also insisted that the dominant political party should lead the government for greater stability and effective functioning of any coalition arrangement.
At the All India Congress Committee briefing, party spokesman Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said that while Congress is in a race to win the polls, there is always a ‘tendency of anti-incumbency’ in India. “Any party facing a re-election faces greater challenges. In the United States Congress, there is a 96 per cent chance of re-election while in the Lok Sabha elections it is just 26 per cent. It is not impossible that we are re-elected even with a lesser number of seats. What matters is that how many parliamentarians are ready to support us,” he said.
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