There was a certain smugness about the Congress on Sunday as its top decision-making body met to discuss — and savour — a resounding electoral victory and plan how to make it past the 272 mark.
It also looked in no mood to forgive and forget indiscretions by erstwhile allies Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan. In fact, the party seemed eager to keep them out, or, at the least, make them grovel for forgiveness.
There is also a strong view in the party against any association with the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the evening. The SP is obviously keen to support and participate in the UPA government.
At 261, the UPA needs 11 seats to reach the simple majority mark. Party leaders believe they will get there with the help of independents and less troublesome smaller formations.
The issue of alliances did not figure in the morning meeting of the core group that includes Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
But at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) later, Digvijay Singh, who is in charge of the UP wing of the party, and Ashok Kumar, special invitee to the CWC from Bihar, strongly argued for “no truck” with Lalu and Mulayam.
The party was reviving in UP and Bihar, they argued, and a tie-up with the SP and RJD would undo that. The party should focus completely on getting better in the two states.
Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel made a gesture to Digvijay Singh to take the floor. Then Gandhi asked Kumar for his views on the matter.
Kumar spoke about how Lalu blamed the Congress for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.
While Lalu or Mulayam or Paswan may not have applied formally or informally for induction into the UPA or its government, the Congress has decided to take a call on them after discussions with it pre-poll allies.
And they are Sharad Pawar’s NCP, M. Karunanidhi’s DMK, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference.
“We will have consultations with our pre-poll allies,” said spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi.
The Congress Parliamentary Party will meet on Tuesday to choose Manmohan Singh as its parliamentary party leader and Gandhi as CPP chairperson.
Though much would depend on when the Lok Sabha is constituted and when President Pratibha Patil invites Manmohan Singh to form the government, the swearing in is likely on May 20 or May 22 (the day he took oath five years ago).
The cabinet will meet on Monday after which the prime minister will go to meet the president to submit his resignation. Patil is likely to ask Manmohan to continue as caretaker PM.