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Nitish, others on Congress wishlist

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in a television interview on Sunday hinted that the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) may join the Congress after the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

delhi Updated: May 04, 2009 01:24 IST
HT Correspondent

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in a television interview on Sunday hinted that the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) may join the Congress after the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

“Nitish Kumar has hinted at joining Congress. But he has not confirmed as yet. He is waiting for the election results to decide which party to support,” Dikshit told CNN-IBN.

The statement set political circles abuzz with the speculation that JD(U) may sever links with its ally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and join the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) after the elections.

“Talks must be on between Congress and Nitish Kumar at some level. I cannot say whether Nitish will support the Congress or not,” she added.

However, refuting all speculation, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said in New Delhi, “There is no ban on day-dreaming in democracy. Sheila should take care of her own allies who might join us. The JD(U) has assured us that they will make Advani the prime minister.”

The JD(U) spokesman in Patna, Shivanand Tewary, told Hindustan Times: “Our party is supporting LK Advani as prime minister. We will have nothing to do with the Congress after the polls.”

Congress leaders privately say that besides the JD-U, there are some other parties that they hope would either join the coalition or support it from outside or even stay neutral if the combination falls short of the half way mark of 272. These include the Left (with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself saying that he is ready to deal with them), Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam party, K Chandrashekhara Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti, J. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD.

“There could be a situation where some parties will either give outside support or stay neutral so that the BJP-NDA is kept out of power and a new government is able to function,’’ said a Congress leader seeking anonymity. The Congress would lead this government, he added. It will not lead another front.

But this is not going to be easy. Any move by the JD-U towards the Congress may see the collapse of Nitish Kumar’s JD (U)-BJP government in Bihar, the re-establishment of the Congress-Left relations would undermine the Congress’s newly established ties with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. And the AIADMK’s tacit or open support would inevitably end Congress-DMK relations. “These parties could be among the neutrals,’’ the Congress leader.

(With inputs from agencies)