Congress at allies’ mercy

Once big brother, now vulnerable to bullying by Pawar, Lalu and Omar

New Delhi | Updated: February 13, 2014 9:01 am
It’s Pawar who’s dictating terms now. With Sonia Gandhi. (File Photo) It’s Pawar who’s dictating terms now. With Sonia Gandhi. (File Photo)

Trying to bring along what it calls like-minded secular parties to take on Narendra Modi, the ruling Congress finds itself faced with allies that are for once assertive after having seemed, until recently, reconciled to the Congress’s big-brotherly attitude.

After the NCP refused to part with even one seat from its quota in Maharashtra, Lalu Prasad of the RJD is learnt to have hardened his stand in the seat-sharing negotiations. In the Kashmir valley, where it plans to contest one seat this time, the Congress finds itself intimidated by its coalition partner in the state, the National Conference, whose chief minister recently threatened to resign over the creation of new administrative units. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is eager to patch up with the DMK but M Karunanidhi is yet to play ball. In UP, the Congress is eager to have a tie-up with the BSP but the latter has nipped any such possibility in the bud declaring it would go it alone.

No wonder Congress leaders have a stock answer to every question about talks on alliances: “The A K Antony committee (the party subgroup on pre-poll alliances) has not submitted its report yet.”

Lalu, who kept on extending unsolicited support to UPA II despite being consistently denied a place in the government, is learnt to have raised the stakes. He had been desperately knocking on 10 Janpath until recently, when the Congress had been weighing the option of going with the JD(U). In 2009, the RJD’s refusal to give more than three seats to the Congress in Bihar had led to the breakdown of negotiations.

Lalu has had two meetings with Rahul Gandhi and one with Sonia Gandhi but the stalemate on seat shares continues, much to the exasperation of LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, who admitted at an interaction with The Indian Express team that he was completely in the dark about the status of the Congress-RJD-LJP alliance. Rahul is said to have demanded at least 15 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats but the RJD is not willing to give it more than 10.

“We just want the Congress to tell us their candidates and we are ready to accept what they want. They don’t have candidates for even half a dozen seats. We are saying that even RJD MPs would be supporting the Congress only after elections. So, why this insistence on contesting so many seats and losing them to the BJP?” a senior RJD leader told The Indian Express.

Leaders of all three parties, however, remain confident of sorting out the differences over seat-sharing, simply because none of them has any other options.

“Everybody suddenly appears to have grown teeth. But it is understandable in the given circumstances,” a senior Congress functionary said, an admission of the party’s vulnerability at a time when all pre-poll surveys are writing it off.

In Jammu & Kashmir, the Congress is learnt to be in favour of going it alone in the assembly elections but of continuing the alliance in the Lok Sabha elections. Though seat-sharing negotiations are yet to start, the Congress is preparing to demand least one of the Lok Sabha seats in the valley, either Anantnag or Baramulla. The National Conference has, however, already started asserting itself as was evident over the proposal to create new administrative units. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah chose to remain silent over reports about his plan to resign over the issue, but the Congress was quick to pacify him.

The Congress’s allies and UPA constituents have chosen various ways to send their common message across. As the Congress insisted on a 27:21 share in Maharashtra, where it wanted to take Kolhapur out of the the NCP’s quota of 22, NCP union minister Praful Patel went public in virtually giving a clean chit to Modi, saying the court verdict on the post-Godhra riots should not be questioned. A few days later, NCP chief Sharad Pawar confirmed reports about his meeting with Modi last month. No wonder the next meeting of NCP leaders with Antony turned out to be the last one as the Congress gave up on its demand and even left the issue of swapping of constituencies — to enable Youth Congress president Rajev Satav  to contest from the Hingoli seat — to the NCP’s discretion.

Early this week, when Farooq Abdullah expressed reservations against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Congress leaders were quick to read between the lines.
“There is nothing strange about the allies’ attitude. Every party acts in its own interests. Time is the biggest leveller,” an AICC general secretary summed up, philosophically.

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First Published on: February 13, 2014 1:55 am
  1. S
    Samanya Aadmi
    Feb 13, 2014 at 5:01 am
    There is nothing to worry. Madam should head back to Italy and Pappu to Spain. Leave Congress to be led by Manmohan Singh till his last days. Congis have made enough money to last 4 generations.
    Reply
    1. S
      Samanya Aadmi
      Feb 13, 2014 at 5:01 am
      There is nothing to worry. Madam should head back to Italy and Pappu to Spain. Leave Congress to be led by Manmohan Singh till his last days. Congis have made enough money to last 4 generations.
      Reply
      1. A
        Ankit
        Feb 13, 2014 at 4:18 am
        More to come. As election nears, congres will get weaker.Congress is Alibaba and the rest are 40 chors.
        Reply
        1. B
          Bittu sharma
          Feb 13, 2014 at 11:07 am
          The average rate of economic growth during the self-declared India Shining period of the BJP was just 5.8% per year, as compared to 8.5% during the five year tenure of the Congress-led UPA government....
          Reply
          1. B
            Bittu sharma
            Feb 13, 2014 at 11:07 am
            The average rate of economic growth during the self-declared India Shining period of the BJP was just 5.8% per year, as compared to 8.5% during the five year tenure of the Congress-led UPA government....
            Reply
            1. B
              Bittu sharma
              Feb 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm
              modi does't know the value of 60 month, we does't want any riots, we does't want these such type of any activity, we only want development for better india..
              Reply
              1. B
                Bittu sharma
                Feb 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm
                modi does't know the value of 60 month, we does't want any riots, we does't want these such type of any activity, we only want development for better india..
                Reply
                1. B
                  Brijkhanna
                  Feb 13, 2014 at 1:46 am
                  It is universal truth, when one"s bad days come, all friends leave his company. On a "SINKING SHIP" all sailors jumps to safety even "Rats" only the captain of the ship has to sink with the ship.
                  Reply
                  1. G
                    Gautam
                    Feb 14, 2014 at 2:30 am
                    This is why both UPA and Third Front are bad options. Corrupt regional parties would have too much influence and would make good governance impossible.
                    Reply
                    1. G
                      Gautam
                      Feb 14, 2014 at 2:30 am
                      This is why both UPA and Third Front are bad options. Corrupt regional parties would have too much influence and would make good governance impossible.
                      Reply
                      1. G
                        GOPAL KULKARNI
                        Feb 13, 2014 at 7:34 am
                        It is becoming crystal clear to all and sundry in the ongoing political Mahabharat of india that the GOP of India is on the "death bed" and is on the verge of extinction. No wonder, like the rats in a sinking ship, human-rats in the form of Lalu,Paswan,Farukh,Sharda etc. are either jumping the ship or are trying to extract whatever they can for their own survival ,from a broken "anic". The all round pitiable state of the Congress party under Sonia-Manmohan is indeed so pathetic that even Congressmen and women seem to have lost all hope of the party's survival and have gone underground or have become silent spectators. ( Look how, lately no Congress spokesperson is appearing on TV to give silly or otherwise, reactions to Narendra Modi's speeches which are becoming frequent and more aggressive. ) Such a development when Congress & hi family will just disappear from Indian politician scene augurs well for strengthening of democracy in the country, whether or not Modi becomes PM. As Man Mohan himself admitted,in a different context, better days are ahead for India, come May 2014.
                        Reply
                        1. G
                          GOPAL KULKARNI
                          Feb 13, 2014 at 7:34 am
                          It is becoming crystal clear to all and sundry in the ongoing political Mahabharat of india that the GOP of India is on the "death bed" and is on the verge of extinction. No wonder, like the rats in a sinking ship, human-rats in the form of Lalu,Paswan,Farukh,Sharda etc. are either jumping the ship or are trying to extract whatever they can for their own survival ,from a broken "anic". The all round pitiable state of the Congress party under Sonia-Manmohan is indeed so pathetic that even Congressmen and women seem to have lost all hope of the party's survival and have gone underground or have become silent spectators. ( Look how, lately no Congress spokesperson is appearing on TV to give silly or otherwise, reactions to Narendra Modi's speeches which are becoming frequent and more aggressive. ) Such a development when Congress & hi family will just disappear from Indian politician scene augurs well for strengthening of democracy in the country, whether or not Modi becomes PM. As Man Mohan himself admitted,in a different context, better days are ahead for India, come May 2014.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            manish
                            Feb 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm
                            it is only a matter of time when Rahul gains momentum and the congress secures a large number of seats when these allise will coming rushing to UPA.
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              manish
                              Feb 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm
                              it is only a matter of time when Rahul gains momentum and the congress secures a large number of seats when these allise will coming rushing to UPA.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Anjan
                                Feb 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm
                                Congress has done enough damage to the country and i can see that all parties are afraid to support congress a sinking ship. The people of India should realize that we need one strong party with the required seats so that we can have a strong government. The party with an alliance is going to be dysfunctional due to black mail from supporting small parties.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Anjan
                                  Feb 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm
                                  Congress has done enough damage to the country and i can see that all parties are afraid to support congress a sinking ship. The people of India should realize that we need one strong party with the required seats so that we can have a strong government. The party with an alliance is going to be dysfunctional due to black mail from supporting small parties.
                                  Reply
                                  1. k
                                    k.madhukar
                                    Feb 13, 2014 at 7:20 am
                                    Congress will be a regional party of North East India in 2014
                                    Reply
                                    1. k
                                      k.madhukar
                                      Feb 13, 2014 at 7:20 am
                                      Congress will be a regional party of North East India in 2014
                                      Reply
                                      1. H
                                        h n
                                        Feb 13, 2014 at 3:22 am
                                        despite this congress has nothing 2 loose.alliance partners have every thing to loose."lamba jode tunko jai mare nahito mando pade" looking 2 public mood this gujarati proverb is most appropriate 4 allies
                                        Reply
                                        1. H
                                          h n
                                          Feb 13, 2014 at 3:22 am
                                          despite this congress has nothing 2 loose.alliance partners have every thing to loose."lamba jode tunko jai mare nahito mando pade" looking 2 public mood this gujarati proverb is most appropriate 4 allies
                                          Reply
                                          1. N
                                            nikita singh
                                            Feb 13, 2014 at 10:40 am
                                            It is the Congress that achieved the Green Revolution and the White Revolution bringing new prosperity to our kisans and khet mazdoors and making India the largest milk producer in the world..
                                            Reply
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