State alliances make Congress ticklish

Alliances in the coming Assembly polls is West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have put Congress in a tight spot.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: January 30, 2011 1:14:29 pm

The issue of alliances in the coming Assembly polls in five states including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu is ticklish for the Congress with the regional parties in both the states playing the ‘big brother’.

Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is virtually playing the big brother in West Bengal with the Congress which is all set to go with the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

DMK has quite an uphill task in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam,but Congress leaders say that they have no other option but be a part of the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu.

Banerjee met the Congress President Sonia Gandhi last week but there have been no details from either side about the parleys between the two top leaders,their first interaction in the new year with West Bengal polls just a few months away.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is visiting Delhi and will hold the talks with Congress President Sonia Gandhi tomorrow to firm up alliance in the southern state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently declared in Chennai that the alliance was strong.

Privately,Tamil Nadu Congress leaders are singing a different tune. They say that since DMK is the third largest constituent of the UPA at the Centre,the Congress cannot think about any other ally in the state. “The leadership wants the Centre to be safe and therefore we have to go along with the DMK in the state knowing pretty well that it was on the backfoot in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam,” said a senior state leader,who declined to be identified.

In West Bengal,Trinamool Congress has frowned upon state Congress plans to demand 98 of the total 294 seats for forging an alliance for assembly elections expected to be held by May.

A senior Trinamool leader,who declined to be identified,has ridiculed the idea warning that Congress would be playing into the hands of CPI(M) if it pitched for seats higher than its strength.

Congress played a second fiddle to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls,and there have been heated exchanges between the two sides at the state level on the issue of alliance.

Besides Tamil Nadu and West Bengal,Assembly polls are also being held in Kerala,Assam and Puducherry.

Congress is leading the United Democratic Front of “like-minded” parties in Kerala for the past few decades and this time the Front is in an upbeat mood after a good showing in the last Lok Sabha elections.

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is its traditional rival in the state.

In Puducherry,the Congress is in power on its own while in Assam,it is ruling with the support of a Bodo party.

Congress general Secretary Digvijay Singh,in charge of party’s affairs in Assam,has said that no decision has been taken so far about going in for alliance in the state,indicating it could go alone.

Party President Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi had remained silent on the issue of alliances at the party’s plenary held here last month. The political resolution adopted at the plenary had also skirted the issue.

Gandhi had only acknowledged the shock the party received in the just concluded Assembly elections in Bihar where it had contested on its own.

Talking in generalities,the political resolution had merely said the necessity of coalition politics at the central level does not prevent party’s state-level workers from hoping and dreaming of a larger political space wherever they may be and “we as a party must be cognisant and supportive of their aspirations.”

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