New Delhi: With just two years left for the 2024 national elections, the Congress’s Chintan Shivir (brainstorming workshop) saw overwhelming support for alliances with regional parties, with many leaders suggesting state-level pacts over a national alignment.
The political committee of the workshop discussed alliances over two days. Even as polarisation and rising communalisation remained the two hot topics, the question of alliance nevertheless found voices both in favour and against poll pacts.
Leaders, including Abhishek Singhvi, Pramod Tewari and Prithviraj Chavan, argued that time was too short for the Congress to adopt an ‘ekla cholo re’ (walk alone) model. Many pro-alliance leaders suggested the party must try to enter into pacts at the state-level, as regional parties have their influence confined to certain areas and not across the nation. “Our suggestion was that the Congress must strive to ally with the dominant non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) party in a state,” said one of the members of the panel.
“We added that while everyone wants the Congress to be able to fight on its own and revive at the grassroots, but on the limited issue of electoral tactics, we don’t have enough time to shun alliance and go ekla cholo re.”
To be sure, the party would not enter into alliances blindly, another leader said. “Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has already announced in Telangana that the Congress will fight on its own and there is no scope of a poll pact with Telangana Rashtra Samithi, even as the party has now positioned itself as anti-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party),” he said, seeking anonymity.
During the discussion, a leader also suggested that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra be made the party president.
A pro-alliance leader argued the push for pacts with dominant partners is actually aimed at choosing alliance partners more carefully. He argued that in West Bengal, the party didn’t gain any seat in an alliance with the Left parties. “We should have tried for a pact with Trinamool,” he said, declining to be named.
Another leader, however, acknowledged that picking alliance partners was easier said than done. “In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party refused an alliance with the Congress,” he said. “And now, with the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party, some parties might see an alternative to the Congress.”
The leaders opposing pacts was led by a leader from Bihar. They argued that for long-term goals, the Congress needs to be strengthened.
The discussions of the political committee, according to a member, have been primarily focused on social tensions and polarisation.
“All of us were of the view that the Congress must not go on a defensive but take the BJP on over issues of polarisation,” said another member.