News Analysis: Congress and its alliance blues

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in November 2017. Photo: Twitter/@yadavtejashwi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in November 2017. Photo: Twitter/@yadavtejashwi  


The Congress party’s reluctance to have an alliance with the AAP in Delhi is understandable to some extent. There are roadblocks for an agreement between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party-BSP coalition in U.P., which is also explicable. But the Congress demand that Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) give it 15 seats in Bihar, out of a total of 40 is not merely baffling, but also smacks of irresponsibility on the part of party’s decision-makers. Seat-sharing talks between the two parties were continuing on March 13 evening. The RJD has offered 11 seats to the Congress, and observers tuned into the State’s politics point out it is an honourable deal.

The AAP and the Congress have a very bitter recent past. Mr. Kejriwal rose to prominence by running a vicious campaign against the Congress at the Centre and in Delhi. The spear of his populist revolt in 2011 was particularly pointed towards Sheila Dikshit, the then Chief Minister. She has now returned as Delhi Congress chief. Mr. Kejriwal and his movement discredited the UPA government at the Centre and paved the way for the rise of Narendra Modi. He himself could not win a single Lok Sabha seat in 2014, though he went on to sweep the Delhi Assembly polls in 2015. The Congress has far too many reasons to reject Mr. Kejriwal’s repeated pleas for an alliance.

Why the BSP is not eager to have an alliance with the Congress has been explained in an earlier piece. Party chief Mayawati reiterated on March 12 that the BSP would have no truck with the Congress anywhere in the country.

The Congress-RJD alliance has been an enduring one. The alliance with the RJD was a critical turning point in the Congress fortunes in the 2004 elections. RJD chief Lalu Prasad became a staunch defender of Sonia Gandhi who was under attack from the BJP on the question of her Italian origin. The relations soured later, as Rahul Gandhi grew in prominence in the party and never developed an equation with Mr. Prasad. But Mr. Gandhi developed a bonding with Mr. Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav, the rising young leader of the RJD. The junior Yadav is matching his father in popularity and aggressive political style. The Congress had few reasons to make an alliance with the RJD such a combative exercise.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 7:02:05 AM |

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