Despite its failure to strike deals with key allies in UP and Bihar, the Congress today dismissed suggestions of an end to the UPA and indicated that it is open to post-poll alliances with the estranged allies.
"It is certainly not the end of UPA...Certainly not, said Sonia Gandhi [ Images ], who is also chairperson of the UPA, when asked whether the developments in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh [ Images ], where trusted allies like Lalu Prasad have parted ways, marked the end of the ruling alliance.
Sonia defended the party's decision to go alone in UP and Bihar saying, "We decided to fight on our own only after we could not come to an understanding with two parties RJD and Samajwadi Party."
She, however, parried a question on whether Congress is open to seekingLeft's support to form government after the elections saying, "Let us see... let us first go to the elections." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ], who said his party is "hoping to get the majority on its own", observed that "communalism is the biggest challenge" when asked which of the two -- BJP or Left -- is the main adversary for Congress.
Singh, however, added, "In politics, all adversaries must be taken seriously."
He termed it a hypothetical question when asked if Congress will assist Third Front or seek its support to form the next government. On whether exchanging the Left for Samajwadi Party has been a good deal for Congress, Sonia Gandhi said, "I do not look to what happened in past. I am looking for future."
She also evaded a question on why the allies are breaking off from Congress while at the same time showing their high regards for her. "I have not heard any comment about me or my party," she said. Both Samajwadi Party and RJD leaders put the blame for the failure of alliance on "second rung" leaders and "mediators" of Congress.
Asked whether it is not the right time for the party to bring back Mamta Banerjee into the Congress fold with a number of old hands now returning to the party, she said, "Presently, we are in a pre-poll alliance with Banerjee. There is no other position."
She also described her alliance in Tamil Nadu "as of now" as the the same it was in the last Lok Sabha election. The Congress president is also confident of getting the votes of minority, Dalit and OBC from Bihar and UP.