The Congress party's 'Chintan Shivir' seemed to take a middle path towards forming alliances for the Lok Sabha elections, even as it set up groups to study the conflicting views on the issue.
The group on 'emerging political challenges', led by defence minister AK Antony, said coalitions are a reality, while other group tasked with finding solutions to organisational strengths, headed by Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, stressed that conceding grounds to partners has weakened the grand old party.
Earlier, Sonia Gandhi, in her opening speech, called for striking a balance between respecting alliances and ensuring the party’s rejuvenation. “In states in which we are in alliance we have to strike a balance between respecting these alliances and ensuring that the party"s rejuvenation is not not compromised," she said.
"We must admit that we now face increased competition and inroads have been made into our traditional support bases. There are some states, where we have been out of power for too long and, although I too believe that being in power is not the sole purpose of political activities, this does have an adverse impact on our morale and organisation ability," Sonia said.
Sonia gave voice to the finding of Antony led sub-group that challenges before the party are not from a monolith organisation (BJP) but from various segments, admitting latest challenges in the form of indifference of youth, urban flash protests, scams and lack of synchronisation between the party and government.
At the meeting of this group, delegates from West Bengal and Bihar opposed the official document advancing alliances and coalition governments as the reality. They insisted that this was the recipe for the party to get decimated as its popular base keeps getting eroded in accommodating the allies.
Moving away from the 2003 Shimla declaration, which was devoted to fighting communalism and
the BJP, she steered clear of Gujarat chief minister Narindra Modi or communal politics among the listed challenges. Without referring to the BJP's noise over the recent killings of jawans along the LoC, Sonia sent out a clear signal to Pakistan that India wants better and closer relations with its immediate neighbours, but "our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilized behaviour" and that "we will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our borders".
In the meeting of the another group on India and its role in the world, the participants expressed concern over the political leadership of the government and the security establishment not seen on the same page, and called for synergy between the two. The reference was to the political leadership and the Army speaking in two languages on the recent LoC killings and intrusions by China.