As the debate on possible ruling dispensation at the Centre after the Lok Sabha elections gathers momentum, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh feels that extending outside support in a coalition set up is "impractical, utopian and unworkable".
"My personal opinion is that outside support does not work. The largest party cannot be out of the coalition....does not work," the party general secretary told PTI. "Outside support is something which is impractical....too utopian. It has to be a pragmatic policy and working of a coalition has to be that everyone has to be accountable in the Cabinet. People from outside....I think....it does not work."
On the party extending outside support to the United Front government in 1996, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said, "It didn’t work."
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"Well, I would not say it", Singh said when asked if it was a mistake on the part of Congress to do so at that time. "It may have been the right thing to do at that time but certainly it didn't prove to be the right thing to do."
The Congress leader's remarks come after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan last week said his party could form the next government by joining hands with "the Third Front", while Union minister Salman Khurshid said they could consider extending support to it or taking its help to form the government if necessary after the Lok Sabha polls.
Union minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday he is not in favour of extending outside support to the Third Front dispensation if numbers don't stack up for the National Democratic Alliance. Rather, he hinted he wants his party to join the government for stability if it comes to that.
Meanwhile, Singh sought to junk the poll surveys that projected only around 100 Lok Sabha seats for Congress.
It's not for the first time poll predictions are going against us. Even in 2004, the poll predictions were that NDA is going to sweep the polls....India Shining Campaign....even in 2009 the polls had predicted an NDA victory," he said.
"I don’t know why pollsters are very favourable to the NDA and not very favourable to us. But we have proved them wrong in 2004, 2009 and inspite of the blitzkrieg of publicity by Narendra Modi for his own benefit, we are going to do much better than what pollsters are predicting," he added.
Singh said he has never seen so much of money being spent in any election campaign as the ongoing one.
"And it's now obvious that the corporates have opened their coffers personally to Narendra Modi. Why? Because Narendra Modi symbolises crony capitalism where the capitalists have been given a free run at the expense of labourers and farmers in Gujarat," he said.
Singh claimed that highest number of man-days lost in any industry in any state is in Gujarat, where there has been maximum labour unrest and even in the diamond-cutting industry which is the traditional trade, there has been a lay-off.
"So, whatever people may say about the Gujarat model of development, it is a development for the haves at the cost of the have nots."
Asked if preventing Modi from becoming prime minister is the prime objective of the Congress now, Singh said, "Modi is not an issue with us. Issue is ideology. Whether we want an ideology which supports capitalists in this country...which sort of gives away the natural resources at throwaway prices to capitalists. Should we have this kind of government which is in the lap of corporates and capitalists?
"Or you want a government which is pragmatic and is not anti-corporate but at the same time pro-poor. We want the corporates to grow, we want the business houses to grow but there has to be transparency and a level-playing field for all."
Singh admitted that the Congress has not been able to communicate effectively the gains during the UPA regime and counter the "false propaganda" of the Bharatiya Janata Party on issues such as 2G, coal blocks and inflation.
Media has been extremely soft on the BJP and extremely hard on the Congress as far as issues of corruption are concerned, he argued.
"When B S Yeddyurappa was taken back into the BJP, there was hardly any noise. Even when the crony of Reddy brothers (B Sriramulu) was brought in (to BJP) there was hardly any noise. Ashok Chavan (former chief minister of Maharashtra and Congress leader) has not been prosecuted and he has not been charge-sheeted. He was given a seat and there was a big noise," Singh said.