The Congress expects President Pratibha Patil to go by the book and use the 'yardstick of stability' while extending the invitation to form the next government. The All India Congress Committee has also extended an olive branch to Left parties, which is spearheading Third Front initiative, hoping that they will 'follow their principled stand' of fighting against communal parties.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh's refrain in an interview to PTI was that the President should use the yardstick of stability and invite the side which will be able to provide a stable government. "We expect the President to go by the book. She will go by the Constitution," he said on the party's expectation.
Asked whether the single largest party or alliance should be invited, Singh said, "Single largest party...This is something which is the discretion of the President. What is her assessment? Who will be able to give a stable government? Stability should be the yardstick".
Seeking to woo the Left parties, he said they are "very pragmatic, practical and very political group which has been consistent in their approach in the fight against communal parties in the country".
Singh said the Congress hoped that the Left parties would 'follow their principled stand' in the post May 16 scenario. He also said the Congress would be 'flexible' in negotiations but the issue of the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was 'non-negotiable'. Speaking on whether the Congress was contemplating sitting in the Opposition like Rajiv Gandhi did even after the Congress emerged as the single largest party in 1989, Singh said that was a different period and time.
"Things have changed since then...The period was different," the Congress leader said, ruling out the 1989 experiment, when the party had decided to sit in the opposition and paved way for the formation of the V P Singh government.
Singh, who is not on the best of terms with Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, termed the decision of the party not to ally with SP 'as a blessing in disguise'. He also made it clear that the alliance in UP could not materialise due to the conditions given by the SP.
Singh also revealed big plans for UP, saying the party's aim was to come to power on its own in the next assembly polls, scheduled to be held after three years.
When told that the Left parties do not want to play second fiddle to Congress in the next government, Singh said that in a coalition government there is "no first or second fiddle and the prime minister is only the first among equals".
Questioned whether the Congress will reciprocate the gesture of the Left in 2004 and support it for government formation, the Congress leader said it was a question of numbers. "If they have the numbers, We do not have a problem," he said.