Free Press Journal

Cong mulling options to keep Modi out


Narendra Modi

New Delhi: With the result day nearing after a tough electoral battle, Congress is floating the idea of an “enlarged” UPA-III taking on board new allies and keeping open the issue of leadership to stop Narendra Modi.

“All options are on the table and all options are off the table. It all depends upon the numbers we get and the BJP gets and the margin between them,” a senior party leader, who declined to be identified, said.

He insisted that the Congress cannot abandon its role as a responsible national party to ensure that a stable government is in place in national interest and would work in that direction along with all like minded parties.

The shape of things to come depended upon what kind of mandate is received by regional parties and which of them get more seats as there are some among them which cannot join hands with Modi in any eventuality.

“The issue of leadership will come later”, he said suggesting that the Congress is open to the idea of not insisting on the lead role if the numbers so demand.

At the same time, a sizeable section in the party is insisting that the Congress should participate to give the government not only stability but also strength and expertise.

“We are pragmatic enough to understand that no one having just 20 seats will try to lead a party of 100 plus,” he said, adding that the Congress is of the view that its numbers are going to be significantly less than the last polls.

The last 25 years or so have witnessed Congress and the BJP together bagging some 300 odd seats while the rest have gone to regional parties. There is also a section in the party which wants the Congress to sit in the opposition if it does not have respectable numbers to form the government.

The leader, however, felt that things have changed since 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi had chosen to sit in the opposition despite Congress emerging as the single largest party.

Rajiv Gandhi felt that it was a major repudiation of Congress with the tally coming down more than half of the 415 it secured in 1984.

A tally of 130 or more this time from 206 seats in 2009 is not such a drastic fall, the leader reasoned. “Why should we shut the door. There will be enough parties, which will come to us to support,” the leader claimed.

Rejecting the idea of extending outside support to a Third Front to form government to stop Modi, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh had earlier said that the tail cannot wag the body.

Singh had also insisted that the dominant political party should lead the government for greater stability and effective functioning of any coalition arrangement.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Shashi Tharoor today said that while Congress is in a race to win the polls, there is always a “tendency of anti-incumbency” in India.

“Any party facing a re-election faces greater challenge. In US Congress, there is a 96 per cent chance of re-election while in the Lok Sabha elections here it is just 26 per cent.

“It is not impossible that we are re-elected even with a lesser number of seats and BJP is being taken seriously by an one. What matters is that how many Parliamentarians are ready to support us,” he said.