No support to any alliance, but Congress still dreams of an ‘enlarged’ UPA III
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Wednesday said in Bangalore that the party will not support a third front government at the Centre from outside and any coalition government can be formed only under the Congress leadership. After holding the coordination meeting on Congress government completing one year in Karnataka, Singh said his party had seen ‘ups and downs in its long political history but it has never deviated from the ideology of socialism, secularism.’
His statement comes at the time when the party leadership has gone into a huddle to chalk out its future plan. Before the election results are announced on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be meeting all spokespersons of his party on Thursday. Since exit polls say the ruling Congress is going to face a humiliating defeat, Gandhi is expected to brief spokespersons on the Congress’ position depending on the results that come out, in an effort to ensure that the party sends out a clear, coherent message in a single voice, sources said.
Also amid predictions of a defeat as indicated by the exit poll results, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has directed senior leaders of the party to defend prime minister Manmohan Singh. Reportedly she said there should be collective responsibility for defeat and Dr Singh should be defended. Earlier, union ministers Kamal Nath, Jairam Ramesh and Salman Khurshid, in order to build defence for Rahul Gandhi, had put the blame at the door of the Manmohan Singh government.
‘Election results are a reflection on what people’s perception of the government functioning.
To dismiss them (good work) and say we did nothing in 10 years is wrong. Rahul Gandhi was never part of the government,’ Nath had said, defending Rahul. Reportedly during a recent core group meeting, the party’s senior leaders discussed alliance partners of the UPA and how the party should have stuck to going ahead alone. The meet focused on how the alliance had been for the Congress and possibility of post poll alliances.
Meanwhile a section of the Congress, which includes finance minister P Chidambaram, is arguing that Congress has a ‘very good chance’ of forming the government under its leadership along with some allies. There is a growing chorus for an ‘enlarged’ UPA-III to stop Narendra Modi from coming to power.
The idea of an ‘enlarged’ UPA-III means taking on board new allies and keeping open the issue of leadership to stop Modi from becoming Prime Minister.