The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Cong picks revamp route to beard BJP

New Delhi, Jan. 6: The Congress has decided to tone up its organisational set-up in election-bound Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi and several other “problem” states following its in-depth deliberations yesterday on evolving an electoral strategy to counter the BJP.

While the Congress Working Committee (CWC) avoided specific and focused attention on the proposed revamp, party sources today said it would nevertheless be a key component of the overall electoral strategy discussed yesterday at the meeting of the Congress’ highest executive body.

The possibility of entering into the right kind of alliances with like-minded parties, including NDA partners (barring the Shiv Sena) willing to part company with the BJP, and evolving an effective political line to counter the BJP’s Hindutva and terrorism planks are the other components of the strategy which came up for intense discussion at the meeting.

Over the past fortnight, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been holding a series of consultations with party general secretaries, sources said, adding that she is soon expected to make up her mind on changes, wherever they are necessary.

Although it is not among the election-bound states, Karnataka’s Congress unit is likely to get a new chief to replace the reluctant incumbent, Allum Veerabhadrappa. Party general secretary in charge of the state Vayalar Ravi today said a new Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief would be announced by the weekend. Sonia has been gathering the views of senior state Congress leaders, including chief minister S.M. Krishna, on the move over the last three days.

The Congress leadership is also reviewing the state of the party organisation in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Party leaders met Sonia last week.

Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy told reporters that the CWC had found it necessary yesterday to “add emphasis” on the Congress’ readiness to strike state-wise pre-poll alliances following the experiences in Gujarat and Goa. Politically viable and ideologically compatible alliances were necessary to bring about secular unity in the fight against the BJP, he said.

While this is being seen as mainly aimed at Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, it was Sharad Pawar’s breakaway Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which responded to the CWC’s call.

NCP general secretary P.A. Sangma told reporters this afternoon that his party was not averse to considering a state-level alliance with the Congress during the ensuing Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura.

But the CWC’s open invitation, coming as it did in the backdrop of the Gujarat defeat, seems to have emboldened potential allies like the NCP to inflate their expectations from possible poll tie-ups. Sangma made it clear that his party would not settle for a token share in any tie-up with the Congress, be it in Himachal Pradesh or any other state.

He said the Congress’ decision was an admission that the party had committed blunders by shutting its doors on alliances in Goa and Gujarat. It reflected a realisation on the Congress’ part that its support base is rapidly eroding and that Sonia can do nothing about it, Sangma added.

Email This Page