Sensing a windfall from JD (U)'s exit from NDA, Congress on Monday said developments in Bihar will have a "long-term impact" on national politics and favoured coming together of all 'like-minded secular' parties.
"The politics of coalition is continuing in the nation. Congress has
taken care of the fact that like-minded and secular parties should work together in the country. There are no two opinions about it," party general secretary Ajay Maken said, extending an olive branch to Nitish Kumar's party.
Maken on Sunday replaced AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who headed the media department, which has now been re-christened as the communication department.
Maintaining that the message that goes from the break-up of JD (U) and BJP in Bihar is that the "NDA is shrinking", he said that Congress was "carefully examining" it.
Congress has so far been dismissive of the emergence of any third or fourth front and believes that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections will be a UPA versus NDA affair.
"We have an eye on the situation in Bihar. The development in Bihar will have a very deep long term impact on the national politics," Maken said.
While evading a direct reply on whether Congress was open to ally with JD (U), he said, "Congress will play a very big role in Bihar in future and will cooperate with like-minded and secular parties."
His remarks, coming a day after the split in NDA in Bihar, are significant as there have been speculation in past about growing proximity between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Congress, a perception both sought to downplay.
"On the one hand, the Congress is moving forward step by step under Rahul Gandhi and on the other, NDA is shrinking," he said but rejected contention that the tussle for next Lok Sabha poll is going to be Rahul Gandhi versus Narendra Modi.
Noting that Congress is an ideology-based party, he said the next general elections should not be seen as a A versus B or B versus C contest. Maken also took a dig at Modi, saying before becoming a challenge for Congress, he has to establish himself within the party and the NDA first.
Maken also referred to LK Advani's letter in which the BJP patriarch, after resigning in protest against Modi's elevation a few days back, had slammed his party leaders accusing them of pursuing "personal agenda".
"First of all he (Modi), should reply to the most senior leader in his party. Then he has to answer to and establish himself among the NDA allies, who are falling apart.
"Then he has to explain whether his stature is rising and falling. His being a challenge to Congress comes after all these," he said.
Quoting from Advani's letter, he said that the senior BJP leader did not say this only about Modi but all other leaders of his party.
A day before JD (U) broke up from Congress, another party spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das had said,"JD(U) is a like-minded party, which has faith in secularism" and that the "political formation of like-minded forces in the interest of the nation can happen any time".
Maken, however, reacted a bit cautiously saying the issue of alliances is being looked after by the committee on alliances being headed by senior leader AK Antony.
He also referred to the AICC reshuffle on Sunday, which has a clear imprint of Rahul Gandhi and has brought the average age of AICC leaders to 52 "keeping in mind the changing young demographic profile of the country". Maken termed it the "youngest team of the AICC" in Congress history.
The Congress general secretary, however, parried questions on why an 86-year-old Sisram Ola is being made a cabinet minister, when the focus is so much on youth.
Maken also said that the focus of the communication department of the AICC will be on being accessible all the time to disseminate the party views on key issues.
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