Opposition alliance must not be aimed at ‘containing’ Congress, says Salman Khurshid

Kolkata: As opposition parties mull an anti-BJP front for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid says any grand alliance must not be aimed at “containing Congress” and that all its constituents must make “sacrifices and adjustments” with the sole objective of defeating the BJP-led NDA. Khurshid also feels it will be difficult for the Congress to come to power on its own.

“All our leaders have made it very clear that an alliance (is needed) to change the country’s government. The BJP must go. Whatever it takes to sacrifice, adjust and negotiate to make the alliance a reality, Congress is willing to do,” Khurshid told PTI here in an interview.
“But it is only fair that it should be the same attitude of other (opposition) parties. The alliance must not be for containing Congress, the alliance must be for removing BJP and we are willing for anything,” he said.

When asked whether it is possible for the Congress to come to power on its own, the former external affairs minister said, “It is obviously difficult today”. “If that is the objective (majority on its own) then we will have to work over a period of five years. Because you cannot work towards an alliance for three years and then suddenly say we will fight to win (on our own). You have to fight for five years. Today we are committed to the alliance and we will do our very best to ensure that the alliance succeeds,” he said.

Congress is the only party that gets seats from all over the country and all other (opposition) parties get seats from their respective states, he added. “Now the elasticity in numbers is much greater when you are talking of seats from all over the country and when you are talking of seats only from your state. This is the practical reality with which all the leaders have to deal with an open mind,” Khurshid, who also served as minister for law and justice in the UPA II, said.

Khurshid’s comments on the possibility of a grand opposition alliance come against the backdrop of the opposition’s efforts to stitch a united front against the BJP before the 2019 elections and BSP chief Mayawati’s decision to go it alone in the upcoming assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh without any truck with the Congress. Assembly elections are also being held in Mizoram.

The Samajwadi Party has also decided not to forge an alliance with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, accusing it of being “non-committal for too long”. Khurshid said the objective of the grand alliance is to defeat the Modi government. “If the participants of the grand alliance forget this objective, then obviously it won’t happen and it will be a loss for every party and the country,” he said.

The Congress leader, however, sounded hopeful of getting Mayawati’s BSP back in the fold, saying the issues in the assembly polls are different from those of the Lok Sabha polls. “Once the state elections give us some indications of what the public mood is, tying up the grand alliance may become easier,” Khurshid, who twice served as party president of Uttar Pradesh, said. The opposition’s prime ministerial candidate won’t be an issue in forging the grand alliance when its leaders have clearly said this can be decided after the poll outcome, he said.

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