Adding to the unease of UPA allies a day after AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi reached out to rivals Nitish Kumar,Chandrababu Naidu and J Jayalalithaa,Congress president Sonia Gandhi postponed her trip to Tamil Nadu where she was to address a joint rally with DMK chief M Karunanidhi.
The Congress claimed Gandhis trip was postponed because Karunanidhi was unwell. There was also buzz that the trip was called off due to security reasons but official sources told The Indian Express that there were no security concerns. The move,coming a day after Rahul Gandhi suggested that Jayalalithaa could be a possible post-poll partner,fuelled suspicion in the ranks of UPA partners.
And it is doubtful whether the Gandhi-Karunanidhi rally will be held at all because DMK sources said Karunanidhi,who had undergone back surgery recently,had been advised complete rest until May 11,the last day for campaigning in Tamil Nadu which votes on May 13.
DMK spokesman T K S Elangovan amplified the unease,saying We are not taking note of what Rahul Gandhi says. For us,Sonia Gandhi is important and she continues to stick by the alliance with the DMK.
Since Jayalalithaas AIADMK is expected to do well in Tamil Nadu,allies suspect that Rahul Gandhi was only outlining his partys strategy to stay ahead in the numbers game.
As reported in The Indian Express today,Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee,reacting to Gandhis remark that he was confident of Left support after the polls,warned the Congress that their arrangement in West Bengal would end if the Congress and Left were to get together again.
Other allies also reacted sharply to Gandhis wooing of rivals. SP general secretary Amar Singh charged the Congress with trying to cling to power at any cost. In the midst of elections,both the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi are wooing the Left. What does it show? Singh said in West Bengal,adding it shows the Congresss lust for power.
The RJD and LJP,allies from Bihar who broke away to contest separately but are expected to perform below their 2004 scores,were also upset over Congress attempts to reach out to Nitish Kumar. RJD chief Lalu Prasad was very direct: Nitish Kumar has done nothing for Bihar. I dont know why and how Rahul Gandhi is praising him. LJPs Ram Vilas Paswan wondered why then was the Congress contesting against Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Both Lalu and Paswan have already started looking to the Left,sensing that the Congress may not be interested in them if they dont get the numbers.
For the record,the Congress tried to placate allies,saying it was totally with them. Party spokesperson Ashwani Kumar said: We are totally with our allies and we are confident of forming a secular government under the leadership of Manmohan Singh. In case there is need to reach out to other secular allies after the results are out on May 16,then it will be considered. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.
Veerappa Moily,Congresss media department chairperson,said: We have a very precious alliance with Mamata Banerjees party and it is permanent. We will not do anything to harm the agreement with Trinamool Congress.
But party sources maintained that the hunt for new allies was very much on the cards since there was a feeling that not all existing allies would be able to deliver the numbers.