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Road to 2024: Friendless and snubbed, why Congress has no ally shedding tears for it

The silence of the other Opposition parties -- “like-minded parties”, as the Congress calls them – was curious even though the Congress's ties with friendly parties and allies are evidently under strain now.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: June 7, 2022 6:52:32 am
Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Congress, ED summons Congress, road to 2024, Congress allies ed case, indian express, latest news, indian express newsNo outrage from other Opposition parties over ED summons to Sonia, Rahul

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Last week, the Congress said its president Sonia Gandhi and Lok Sabha MP and former chief Rahul Gandhi had been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate to appear before it in connection with a money laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper.

While the party cried vendetta, there was no palpable outrage or condemnation from the other Opposition parties, barring an editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna penned by its leader Sanjay Raut.

The silence of the other Opposition parties — “like-minded parties”, as the Congress calls them – was curious even though the Congress’s ties with friendly parties and allies are evidently under strain now.

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For instance, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) last week snubbed ally Congress by unilaterally announcing its candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections – the Congress wanted the seat. Not only did the JMM deny the seat to the Congress but the party announced its nominee without informing its ally.

In April, the Congress’s Rajya Sabha candidate in Assam lost because of cross-voting by some MLAs of the AIUDF, its ally during the Assembly elections last year. In November last year, the RJD unilaterally announced its candidates for two Assembly by-elections — Kusheshwarsthan and Tarapur — leaving ally Congress high and dry. An upset Congress fielded candidates but lost deposits in both the seats.

The DMK, who the Congress believes is its all-weather ally, too, cut the party to size offering it just 25 seats, down from 41 in 2016, and the party had to swallow its pride and accept the offer.

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In Uttar Pradesh, if sources are to be believed, a senior Congress leader had spoken to Akhilesh Yadav seeking an alliance. He reportedly told Yadav the Congress would be willing to contest on just 30 or 40 seats to ensure that the anti-BJP votes are not divided. The Samajwadi Party was not even willing to discuss the offer.

Months later, Rahul Gandhi revealed that his party had reached out to BSP chief Mayawati for an alliance and had even offered her the Chief Minister’s post, but that she did not respond.

The silence of the regional parties on the summons to the Gandhis came days after Rahul said the Congress alone can fight the BJP as the regional parties neither have an ideology nor a centralised approach – a line that upset many parties in the Opposition. It is not that the silence was linked to Rahul’s remarks but the fact remains that the grand old party is now facing a hard time rallying other Opposition parties behind it.

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Amid all this is the fresh crisis that the Congress is facing in Rajya Sabha elections in Haryana and Rajasthan. While the party is confident of overcoming the crisis, leaders point out the real turmoil in Rajasthan will begin after the elections.

Influential leaders in the party high command have signaled that the party will take a call on the simmering leadership issue in Rajasthan after the Rajya Sabha elections. “We cannot let the issue linger and make Rajasthan go the Punjab way. We have to take a decision either way and announce it,” a senior leader said.

The “either way” that he is talking about is whether to continue with Ashok Gehlot as Chief Minister or replace him with Sachin Pilot. But it is a catch-22 – there will almost certainly be turmoil whichever way the party goes.

The Congress has deputed Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo and AICC treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal as observers for Rajasthan. The party may or may not emerge victorious in the Rajya Sabha elections but that will be just the beginning of another round of showdown. A solution that is acceptable to both Gehlot and Pilot is a tough ask.

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First published on: 06-06-2022 at 04:52:58 pm

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