Congress faces alliance troubles
New Delhi, March 19 (IANS): The Congress appears to be caught between its goal of defeating the ruling NDA in the Lok Sabha elections and expanding its own base in various states, leading to its failure to seal crucial alliances including in Bihar.
The Congress has also fielded candidates on two seats won by the CPI-M in West Bengal in 2014 and has rejected the “no contest in sitting seats” offer of the Marxists, after the seat sharing talks broke off.
The party has also not been able to reach an understanding with the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir and appears to be in two minds vis-a-vis the AAP in Delhi.
In Bihar, which is crucial for the possibility of post-poll alignments, the two major constituents of Grand Alliance – the RJD and Congress – have not come to an understanding yet despite many rounds of talks at various levels.
Under pressure from other allies, the RJD is apparently not keen to give more than nine of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state to Congress but the latter is keen to contest at least 11.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents, on the other hand, have decided not only the numbers but also specific seats they would contest in Bihar.
In West Bengal, the Congress on Monday night announced candidates for Raiganj and Mushirabad, seats on which CPI-M has sitting MPs and where it has announced candidates. Former Union Minister Deepa Dasmunsi will contest from Raiganj while Abu Hena would be the party candidate from Murshidabad.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Mohammad Salim defeated Dasmunsi by a slender margin in 2014 while Badaruddoza Khan entered the Lok Sabha from Murshidabad. The CPI-M is now likely to field candidates on seats won by the Congress.
A senior RJD leader told IANS said that their patience was running out and if the Congress does not take a decision soon, they may not be together in the alliance.
“There are so many other parties that are part of the Grand Alliance and they have to be accommodated. I am surprised the Congress is not looking at the larger goal of defeating the BJP. We cannot wait indefinitely as we have to go ahead with seat distribution and campaign,” he said.
He said that in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which the Congress and the RJD fought together, the former had contested on 12 seats and the latter had on 27.
The Congress does not appear to have taken a final view on a possible alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. While some of its leaders favour this to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, many others want to contest alone.
And in Kashmir, the National Conference has refused a tie-up with the Congress in the Valley but said it was open to seat sharing in Ladakh and Jammu region.