The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tie-up refresher course for allies

Hyderabad, Jan. 22: The Congress has told its partners in the United Progressive Alliance that the responsibility for the coalition’s success and the government’s durability rests as much on them as on itself.

The political resolution adopted by the subjects committee of the AICC plenary did not refer directly to the turmoil in Karnataka and the souring of its alliance with the Janata Dal (S).

But there were statements in the 16-page document that reflected the leadership’s concerns with the at times contradictory forces of keeping an alliance together and ensuring that the party was not turfed out by its allies or outfoxed by political manoeuvres, as in Karnataka.

It recognised the reality that Karnataka had shown the “anti-BJP” adhesive which brought the UPA constituents together in 2004 was not safe from wear and tear.

Virtually redefining the alliance’s raison d’etre, it said the coalition was created “not in terms of a narrow-minded pursuit of power per se, or even a desperate move to stall the communal forces from returning to office, but as a wholesome desire to serve the nation with time-tested ideas and methods of rapid development and distributive justice”.

The resolution was drafted by a sub-committee headed by human resource development minister Arjun Singh.

It said that while the Congress was reaffirming its “commitment to the continued success” of the government, recognised that “each of its coalition partners has its own perspectives” and was “conscious of its responsibilities as the leader of the coalition”, the contribution of the partners was also “significant” and so were the “gains” accruing to them.

Therefore, it urged its partners to follow a “basic discipline” in public and refrain from “crossing the limits of constructive criticism” in their “anxiety to protect and project their own individual party line”.

Sources said the drafters had decided the resolution would not articulate the party’s misgivings and problems with its allies, despite the Karnataka experience, and there would be no criticism of the Left either. If anybody felt strongly on either issue, they would be free to express their views during the discussions.

Barring remarks by speakers like Priya Ranjan Das Munshi from Bengal and Kerala unit general secretary M.I. Shahnawaz, who said the Congress will not be dictated to by the Left and Sonia Gandhi was a “more extreme Leftist” than the comrades from these two states, the CPM and the CPI had no reason to squirm.

Some Karnataka delegates, who through notes petitioned general secretary Ambika Soni to permit them to speak, received no response. They alleged that the silence fuelled their “fears” that some central leaders were “striking a deal behind our backs” with Dal (S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda to try and salvage the government.

The resolution also clarified the vexatious Congress-Left equation and the contradiction in fighting a party in some states and taking its support at the Centre. The resolution said there was “no contradiction” because “national challenges demand cooperation and coordination among secular parties”.

“But in states like Kerala, Bengal and Tripura, there is no question of any understanding or compromise. The Congress will aggressively confront and fight the Left in these three states,” it added.

Recognising the fact that it was “anti-BJPism” which welded the Congress-Left political arrangement at the Centre, the resolution made it clear there would be no truck with any party that was directly or indirectly aligned with the BJP. Perhaps a message for Mamata Banerjee there.

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