The crucial meeting of the revamped Congress Working Committee is brainstorming strategies for the upcoming assembly elections in three states as well as the general elections next year as the party looks to build a stable front against the BJP-led NDA.
Most members stressed on the fact that Congress should lead the united opposition since it is the party with a footprint in most states, sources said.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, however, said the Congress is committed to make alliances work. “We have to rescue our people from a dangerous regime that is compromising the democracy of India,” she said, adding that the reverse countdown for the Narendra Modi government has begun.
Senior party leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram also spoke vociferously on alliances and gave a presentation on it. He advocated that the party go it alone in states where it is well placed and only stitch alliances where needed.
According to sources, he highlighted that Congress could do well in 12 states and increase its tally by three times, taking its number of seats to 150. “For the rest of the states, regional state-wise regional alliances is the need of the hour,” he said.
Chidambaram’s alliance formula got the backing of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. “I am saying that alliances will be dependent on where the national leadership takes us and wherever it takes us we will go. People are expressing confidence in Congress now,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi has already indicated that his party will be working with opposition parties and negotiations are on to craft out state-specific alliances. Apart from Karnataka, where the Congress has said it will contest in partnership with JD-S, the party is already in talks to build a coalition in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
In his address, he reminded members about the “the role of Congress as the voice of India” and the “responsibility of the party as BJP attacks institutions, Dalits, tribals, minorities and the poor.”
He described the newly constituted CWC as an “institution comprising experience and energy, as a bridge between the past, present and the future.” He called upon Congressmen and women “to rise and fight for India’s oppressed.”
Apart from discussing alliances, the topics of how to highlight the failures of the Narendra Modi govt effectively and to strengthen the party at the cadre level dominated the meet as some members expressed concern about booth level management of the party.
Among those present at the meeting include former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, top Congress leaders AK Antony, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ashok Gehlot among others.
This is the meeting of extended CWC which also consists of all state party chiefs and legislature party leaders apart from the regular CWC members, permanent and special invitees to the committee.
Gandhi’s CWC has 23 regular members instead of 25 allowed by the party constitution. It has 18 permanent and eight special invitees.