The recent rout in the assembly polls has forced the Congress to look for allies particularly in the states of Tamil Nadu and Bihar to shore up its declining fortunes ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The six-member committee headed by A K Antony formed in November last year has woken up from slumber to seek input form general secretaries for possible allies in their respective states.
Sources said that the committee members, including Veerapa Moily, Mukul Wasnik, Suresh Pachuri, Jitendra Singh and Mohan Prakash, have also begun to look for a tie-up and seat sharing arrangement with the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) led by actor Vijayakanth in Tamil Nadu and with the Rastriya Janata Dal-Lok Janshakti Party combine in Bihar.
Sources in the Congress said while party vice-president Rahul Gandhi was favourably deposed to tie-up with Janata Dal (United) of chief minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar, his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other seniors have put their foot down and voted to go with their time-tested ally, Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD, whom they believe is still a face to fight with the Congress’s main opponent BJP.
In Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi remains firm on his policy to fight alone in order to revive the party in the most populous state that sends the maximum 80 members to the Lok Sabha. He is understood to have conveyed this to some UP leaders who had approached him for a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati to take on both the BJP and the ruling Samajwadi Party in the Lok Sabha elections.
Though Rahul has given go ahead to negotiate an alliance with the RJD in Bihar, at a close door meeting he had reportedly express dismay over how his chemistry would work with Lalu, as he had refused any kind of alliance or understanding with him in the last elections. His attitude earlier towards Lalu was negative as seen from the way he publicly condemned and got withdrawn the ordinance that was brought to protect the Lok Sabha membership of Lalu on his conviction in the fodder scam. The ordinance was to nullify the Supreme Court judgment disqualifying an MP or MLA on the day of his conviction.
After the Janata Dal (U)’s breakup with the BJP, Rahul Gandhi was quite favourable to rope in Nitish Kumar to have some poll deal between the Congress and his JD(U). But at the insistence of Sonia and other top leaders, the deal seems to have reached a dead end after reports from the Bihar that he has become very unpopular and doesn’t have any solid vote bank to back him. A senior party leader from Bihar, who was earlier a votary of an alliance with Nitish, said the Congress would gain with Lalu’s popularity, which has swung as a “victim” since after he was sentenced to jail.
Though Rahul has not yet given a clear signal, party sources talk of the possibility of a three-way electoral alliance between the Congress, Lalu and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party.