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Confused Cong picks up Rahul's debris

Confused Cong picks up Rahul's debris

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 7, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/174523/Confused-Cong-picks-up-Rahul's-debris.html

Party says no change in allies, but Mamata on warpath

First, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh claimed the party was ready to sit in the Opposition, then Rahul Gandhi stepped in to undo the damage by sending feelers to Nitish Kumar, Left parties and their Third Front partners. And now faced with furious reaction from the UPA allies, the Congress has suddenly remembered the 'coalition' dharma.

But the damage seems to have been done. While Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has threatened to walk out if the Left was in, the DMK leadership is livid over Rahul's 'hello' to Jayalalithaa. The postponement of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's joint meeting with DMK at Chennai has added grist to the rumour mill, and the DMK cadre have reportedly stopped campaigning for the Congress candidates. A week before the State went to the poll, the DMK-Congress alliance seems to have developed yawning gaps.

Things could not have been messier for the Congress and UPA on the eve of the fourth phase of Lok Sabha poll for 85 seats across eight States.

With allies fuming over the Congress attempt to solicit support of the 'enemies', the UPA 'Big Brother' on Wednesday went for another round of course correction. This time talking how it valued its allies, who were treated as 'unwanted' lot by the Congress' heir apparent a day earlier.

Seeking to mollify the Trinamool Congress chief, the Congress said the alliance with the Mamata-led party was "very precious" and it would "not do anything to undermine it".

"We have a very precious alliance with Mamata Banerjee's party and it is permanent. We will not take even a single step forward to subvert the agreement with the Trinamool Congress. We will not at any cost undermine this agreement. This trust will continue between us," said Veerappa Moily, senior Congress leader and party's media-in-charge, on Wednesday.

Congress spokesperson Ashwani Kumar too harped about Congress' loyalty towards its allies. "The Congress is committed to its all pre-poll allies. We are confident that we will get enough numbers to form the Government. But in case of shortage of numbers, in an inevitable situation to form a Government, our options are open with the like-minded secular parties. We have no problem with the RJD, LJP and SP. They will remain with the UPA," he said.

"Rahul's comment was on forming a Government, in case we face shortage of numbers. I repeat, we will never leave any of our allies. Rahul reaching to other parties is your interpretation. It was not correct," he added, seeking to put the lid on the controversy generated by Rahul's 'candid' declarations on Tuesday.

"This situation will arise only after the outcome on May 16. Mamata is an ally and will be an ally. In inevitable situation, formation of a Government is a must and we have to seek the support of like-minded secular parties. But that will not be at the expense of existing allies," Ashwani Kumar said, parrying questions on how the party intended to manage Lalu and Nitish and the DMK and AIADMK together in a coalition.

Mamata maintained a stoic silence on Wednesday refusing to comment on her reported remarks that, if the Congress took

Left support to form a Government, her party could walk out of the UPA.

"I am telling you I will not comment," she told presspersons when asked to elaborate on her earlier statement that, "if the Congress joins hands with the CPI(M) or the Left after the poll, we cannot continue to be with them (Congress).

There is no question of co-existence for us and the CPI(M)."

But, while the Trinamool supremo preferred silence on Wednesday, senior party Trinamool leader Partho Chatterjee made it clear in Kolkata that his party was opposed to any alliance at the Centre which included the CPI(M) and that Rahul's attempt to reach out to Left was untimely.

"This is a very untimely comment made by the Congress leader when we are fighting the battle jointly against the CPI(M) in the last lap of election in West Bengal," he said.

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