At the first meeting of the revamped Congress Working Committee (CWC), sources said the news of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav not wanting to ally with the grand old party was just posturing in an effort to get the maximum out of seat sharing.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also set up a group to look at alliances, even as former finance minister P Chidambaram said the party should go it alone in states where it is well-placed and stitch a coalition where required.
Most members stressed on the fact that the Congress should lead the united opposition as it is the party with a footprint in most states.
Several senior Congress leaders, including Ambika Soni and Mallikarjun Kharge, told CNN-News18 that the CWC has authorised Gandhi to take the final call on forming alliances and device a strategy for the 2019 elections.
Kharge told CNN-News18, “CWC has discussed the issue of alliances. A strategy is being formulated to see how it can be taken ahead in different states.”
Gandhi also issued a warning to party leaders, saying, “I am fighting bigger fights. Everyone has the right to speak in party forum but if a party leader gives a wrong statement and weakens this fight, I will not hesitate to take action.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the Congress’ claim, the SP said, “If the Congress wants any seats in UP in alliance, then it should accommodate us in assembly elections in all three states of MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in a respectable manner.”
Earlier in the day, the Congress chief asked partymen to rise and fight for India’s oppressed.
Calling the CWC an institution comprising experience and energy, he said, “The CWC evolved during freedom struggle. It’s a forum where India expressed, debated, contested and consented ideas to take the nation from colonial rule to freedom.” He added, “CWC gave voice to every single Indian. It accommodated views from different perspectives and gave space to the weakest voices of India. Our collective challenge is to shape our current CWC to that level.”
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, in his address, assured Gandhi that he and all other Congressmen would help him in the onerous task of restoring India’s social harmony and economic development.
“I assure Rahul Gandhiji that we will fully support him in his onerous task of restoring India’s social harmony and economic development, he said, rejecting the culture of constant ‘self praise and jumlas’ (gimmicks), as against solid policy framework for driving the engine of growth,” he said.
Singh said the claim of doubling farm income by 2022 will require an agricultural growth rate of 14 per cent, which is nowhere in sight.
The party said expansion of its vote base was one of their biggest tasks. “In each constituency, we have to find people who have not voted for us and develop a strategy to reach out to them and win back their trust.”
(With PTI inputs)