Big Brother allies worry Congress in TN, WB
The issue of alliances in the coming assembly polls in five states including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu is ticklish for the Congress with the regional parties in both states playing the 'big brother'.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is virtually playing the big brother in West Bengal with the Congress which is all set to go with the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.
DMK has quite an uphill task in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam, but Congress leaders say that they have no other option but be a part of the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu.
Banerjee met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, but there have been no details from either side about the parleys between the two top leaders, their first interaction in the new year with West Bengal polls just a few months away.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has held talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to firm up an alliance in the southern state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently declared in Chennai that the alliance was going strong.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee
Congress seeks more seats in WB, TN
But Tamil Nadu's Congress leaders are singing a different tune. They say that since DMK is the third largest constituent of the United Progressive Alliance at the Centre, the Congress cannot consider any other ally in the state.
"The leadership wants the Centre to be safe and therefore we have to go along with the DMK in the state knowing pretty well that it is on the backfoot in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam," said a senior state leader, who declined to be identified.
In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress has frowned upon the state Congress's plans to demand 98 of the total 294 seats for forging an alliance.
A senior Trinamool leader, who declined to be identified, has ridiculed the idea, warning that the Congress would be playing into the hands of the Communist Party of India - Marxist if it pitched for seats higher than its strength.
Congress played second fiddle to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, and there have been heated exchanges between the two sides at the state level on the issue of the alliance.
Besides Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, assembly polls are also being held in Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.
The Congress is leading the United Democratic Front of 'like-minded' parties in Kerala for the past few decades and this time the Front is in an upbeat mood after a good showing in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and DMK chief Karunanidhi
Polls in Puducherry, Kerala, Assam
The ruling Left Democratic Front is its traditional rival in the state.
In Puducherry, the Congress is in power on its own while in Assam, it is ruling with the support of a Bodo party.
Congress general Secretary Digvijay Singh, in charge of the party's affairs in Assam, has said that no decision has been taken so far about going in for an alliance in the state, indicating it could go alone.
Party president Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi had remained silent on the issue of alliances at the party's plenary in December.
The political resolution adopted at the plenary had also skirted the issue. Gandhi had only acknowledged the shock the party received in the just concluded assembly elections in Bihar where it had contested on its own.
Talking in generalities, the political resolution had merely said the necessity of coalition politics at the central level does not prevent party's state-level workers from hoping and dreaming of a larger political space wherever they may be and "we as a party must be cognisant and supportive of their aspirations."
Image: Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi