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Cong keen on finalising alliances for 2014 LS polls

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 31, 2014
First Published: 00:16 IST(31/1/2014) | Last Updated: 08:08 IST(31/1/2014)

With general elections just a few months away, the Congress is putting its strategy on stitching alliances with different political parties on the fast track.

An announcement on a tie-up with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar is likely to come any time now.

The first concrete indication of firming up the alliance despite Prasad’s conviction in a fodder scam case came from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi himself when he said in an interview to Times Now that the proposed alliance was "with an idea and a political party and not an individual".

Besides, Prasad held a series of meetings recently with Rahul and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Though some Bihar Congress leaders had pushed for a tie-up with the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), the majority favoured an alliance with the RJD. The pro-JD(U) section had argued that Kumar snapped his party’s 17-year-old partnership with the BJP on the issue of the naming of Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate.

Read: LJP to contest polls along with RJD, Congress

The leadership, however, went by the majority view which felt that the broad alliance with the RJD, LJP and NCP would be formidable enough to repeat or even better its 2004 performance when it won 32 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

In Maharashtra, which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress has declared that its 15-year-old alliance with the NCP would continue.

However, the two parties are yet to resolve their differences on seat-sharing.

While the Congress wants to contest 29 seats and leave 19 for the NCP, citing its improved performance as the reason for demanding an increase, union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s party has maintained that it would stick to the existing 26-22 formula.

As a pressure tactic, the NCP has on many occasions in the recent past contradicted the Congress on various issues.

Two days after Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of "aiding and abetting" the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, NCP leader and union minister Praful Patel indirectly defended Modi, saying that since a judicial probe has given the Gujarat chief minister a clean chit, the matter should rest.

Read: Praful entitled to 'own views' on Gujarat riot cases, says Congress

In Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference (NC) too has started flexing its muscles.

Chief minister Omar Abdullah reportedly threatened to resign from his post over the sustained opposition by the Congress over the coalition government’s proposal to create more than 2,000 new administrative units.

Though the leadership of both the Congress and the NC intervened to defuse the crisis, the two sides are still grappling with the bigger issue of a pre-poll alliance for the Lok Sabha and state elections.

Read: Congress, NC resolve deadlock after scare of split

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