For UPA-3 to become reality, Cong has to remove Oppn unity roadblocks

For UPA-3 to become reality, Cong has to remove Oppn unity roadblocks

Patna: Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during a joint press conference after the opposition parties' meeting, in Patna, Friday, June 23, 2023. (Photo:IANS/Twitter)


New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Even as the first meeting of like-minded parties is taking place in Bihar's Patna in a bid to bring them together for the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress faces the uphill task of bringing the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the same page to agree on unity to forge a successful United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 3.
Many Congress leaders have opined that UPA-3 might take shape like it happened in 2004 and 2009 and for that all the parties need to make some "sacrifices" by sidelining personal interests to make it a success.
However, the party needs to tread carefully as the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and the AAP have openly voiced their concerns in the past and in recent times.
According to Congress sources, besides party president Kharge, several top leaders like Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik, Ajay Maken, Tariq Anwar, Digivijaya Singh, Kamal Nath, Pawan Bansal, P Chidambaram, Nikhil Singh, Ambika Soni, Kumari Selja, Bhupinder Singh Hooda are the key players from the grand old party who will play a crucial role in bringing the opposition leaders together for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The source said, however, the main roadblock the party is facing the in the states of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi and Punjab, where the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and AAP have upper hand.
The source said that the challenge the Congress faces from the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party is of playing the junior partner in the most crucial and politically sensitive state, which sends 80 Lok Sabha MPs.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress could manage to win only one seat of Rae Bareli, while it lost its stronghold of Amethi. Even the 2022 assembly polls did not help the party in the state, where it was reduced to only two seats.
"In such a situation where the Congress is on a weak wicket, Akhilesh Yadav would bargain hard with it asking the party to play the role of junior partner in the state," the source said.
The Congress and the Samajwadi Party had an alliance in Uttar Pradesh's 2017 assembly elections and after the results of the polls the relations between the two parties had soured.
The source added that Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee too had been critical of the party, as she wants the Congress to leave its alliance with the Left parties in West Bengal.
During a public meeting on June 16, Banerjee said that there is no question of supporting the Congress in the state since the latter has joined hands with the CPI(M).
"The Congress has formed governments in several states. Now they are seeking our support against the BJP. We are ready to extend support to them to resist the BJP. But they should not seek our support in West Bengal, where they have joined hands with the CPI(M)," the Chief Minister said while addressing a rally at Namkhana in South 24 Parganas district.
She alleged that the CPI(M), Congress and BJP have a clandestine understanding in West Bengal.
"Their common goal is to finish all understanding and hence they have joined hands in a clandestine manner," Banerjee added.
Keeping in mind the stand of Banerjee in West Bengal and her opposition on several issues, the source said that the Congress needs to walk a fine line as she is a hard bargainer and can opt to walk out of the alliance anytime.
The source said that similar is the case with Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who after dethroning the Congress in Punjab is asking the grand old party to not contest in these two states.
"However, during meetings with Kharge of the Punjab and Delhi leaders, many leaders openly voiced their concern that it should not have any kind of alliance with the AAP in Delhi and Punjab and it should also not support Kejriwal on the Centre's ordinance row," the source said, adding that the Congress has to make a tough call looking at the concerns raised by the party leaders.
On Thursday, just a day ahead of the opposition meeting, the AAP had threatened to walk out of the meeting if the Congress did not clear its stand on the ordinance issue.
The source said that the AAP is indulging in pressure tactics as ahead of the opposition meeting on Friday AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar alleged that Rahul Gandhi and the BJP have reached an agreement and he is standing with the BJP on this illegal ordinance.
Kejriwal had sought an appointment with Kharge and Rahul Gandhi over the ordinance row. However, the Congress had earlier said that it will seek the views of the party's state units in Delhi and Punjab and also discuss it with the leaders before deciding on the issue.
Before leaving for Patna, Kharge on Friday morning also said that the party will decide on the ordinance issue during Parliament's monsoon session.
The source said that dealing with the other parties like the RJD, JD-U, CPI, CPI-M, NCP, DMK, JMM, Shiv Sena (UBT), NC, PDP is easier for the Congress as they have worked together in the past.
The source said that the senior leaders of these parties had worked with the Congress during the UPA 1 and 2. "So there is an understanding within the leaders and also mutual respect for each other, so the process of discussion will be smooth with these parties," the source added.
Meanwhile, technocrat and senior Congress leader Sam Pitroda on Friday said that opposition unity requires "sacrifice" and if they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the nation the alliance will be stronger but if it becomes focused on personal interests, the alliance will not succeed.
In an interview to IANS, Pitroda, who has worked closely with former Prime MInister Rajiv Gandhi and former Congress presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, said, "I think we all recognise that alliance is important for 2024. If all the parties come together and put up united candidates the 60 per cent of the remaining vote will not split."
Pitroda, who is also the chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress said that the BJP gets 40 per cent votes and the remaining 60 per cent of the votes get split among multiple candidates.
"So it's a good idea to have an alliance, but the question is how successful they will be in coming together and putting one candidate, united candidate against the BJP," he said.
"If they do that then it will be a victory. Even if they do that for 200 candidates out of 543 that's OK. That meeting will decide based on the wisdom of all the leaders, what is possible and what is not possible," he said.
Kharge had initiated the talks of bringing the opposition parties together. He had dialled Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena Chief and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief MK Stalin.
Following his call, Nitish Kumar took the initiative and met Kharge and Rahul Gandhi in the national capital on April 12 this year along with his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Kumar then also met several opposition parties leaders which included West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Thackeray, AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja and several other prominent leaders.

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