» Election » Cong isn't very keen to include Fourth Front parties

Cong isn't very keen to include Fourth Front parties

By Renu Mittal in New Delhi
May 17, 2009 22:27 IST
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There is a virtual revolt brewing against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Samajwadi Party supreme Mulaym Singh Yadav within the Congress party with senior leaders openly voicing the need to keep the two leaders and their parties out of the next United Progressive Alliance government.

Congress sources have made it clear that for the moment the Congress would only be doing business with pre-poll alliance partners. This includes the Trinamool Congress of Mamta Banerjee, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of M Karunanidhi, the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, the National Conference of Farooq Abdullah and parties with one or two MPs like the Muslim League, etc.

Congress leaders state that the mood of Rahul Gandhi is also to stay away from these parties in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and to strengthen the Congress organisation there. In this context the Congress is wanting to fire from the shoulders of these pre-poll allies with the party stating that a meeting would be held with pre-poll allies, possibly on Tuesday after the Congress Parliamentary Party elects Dr Manmohan Singh as its
leader, for discussions on government formation and what would be the contours of this formation.

This is interesting because with 206 MPs in its kitty from its own party, the Congress need not hold discussions with any of the allies since that would be the prerogative of Dr Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

At a meeting of the Congress Working Committee held on Sunday evening,  the All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of UP Digvijay Singh spoke about the election results in the state and said the Congress is reviving and if the party had to continue to build itself and do well in the next assembly elections, it was important to continue with the policy of ekla chalo and this would include keeping the SP out of government, as the numbers do not necessitate such a step.

Significantly the Congress president asked Ashok Ram, who is from Bihar, to speak. He repeated the same thing as Digvijay but substituted Bihar for UP saying the Congress should stick to its pre-poll allies.

It was also said that during the course of the election campaign Lalu Yadav levelled a serious allegation against the Congress accusing the party of demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Iqbal Singh, the CWC member in-charge of Bihar, told media persons later that Lalu Yadav should be kept out of the government as there was no need for his inclusion. On Sunday morning both Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan called up Sonia Gandhi and spoke to her on the telephone.

While Lalu Yadav wants to be back in the government and retain his Railway portfolio, Ram Vilas Paswan, who has himself lost the election, wants to remain with the UPA and would like to be the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes -- a post
currently being held by Buta Singh.

But since Buta Singh contested as an Independent from Jalore in Rajasthan and lost, leading to the victory of the BJP candidate, the party may not act too kindly to Buta Singh at the moment. The party is upset that the division in the vote lead to the Congress defeat in Jalore.

With sentiment running high against both Lalu and Mulayam, the overwhelming feeling is that it would be suicidal to given them powerful positions in the government.

Sources said it is a decision which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi would take in the next few days. The UPA which is standing at 263, is running short of 9 MPs to make up the magical figure of 272 for government formation. The mood at the moment is to keep the bigger blocs out and instead focus on and bring in the smaller parties which cannot make
too many demands as they don't have the numbers.

This would include Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal which has won 5 MPs, Deve Gowda's Janata Dal- Secular which has 3 MPs and there are 9 independents along with
other smaller parties.

The crucial decision of whether to bring in RJD with its 4 MPs still remains to be taken, though Congress leaders say their old friends are still in the UPA. The Congress said all secular parties, which is defined as all those who are not with the BJP and the Shiv Sena are free to give support to a Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

But the party in return is not talking about including them in the government.

The Fourth Front leaders, Lalu, Mulayam and Paswan met on Sunday evening at the residence of the RJD chief to chalk out a common strategy to pressurise the Congress leadership, even as Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh have asked for time to meet Sonia Gandhi. Amar Singh has publicly offered that the Samajwadi Party would be only too happy to join the UPA government.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi

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