Congress is known for its flip-flops on coalition issue, says CPI (M)

‘The party should understand that the country is passing through a coalition era’

Congress needs to reinvent itself: CPI(M)

Don’t go beyond the limited mandate of coalition: CPI

New Delhi: The talk at the just-concluded AICC session on the issue of coalition appears not to have gone down well with the UPA partners and supporting parties.

While the CPI(M) said the Congress was known for its “record of flip-flops on the coalition issue, Nationalist Congress Party general secretary D.P. Tripathi, in a tongue-in-cheek remark, said: “I welcome the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s speech especially, the part in which she spoke about coalition dharma.”

The Communist Party of India’s D. Raja wanted the Congress to realise that the party’s talk that it would not leave its political space for ever “applied to others also” and suggested that other parties would also act likewise.

At the day-long AICC session on Saturday, Ms. Gandhi had set the tone by saying that coalition did not mean the party should lose its political space for ever and declared that it should get back to the days of its glorious past. The talk of revival of the Congress and shedding coalition politics had come over a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and when the Congress-led UPA government has completed three-and-half years in office at the head of a coalition.

Rashtriya Janata Dal vice-president Ram Dev Bhandari, whose party is the second largest constituent of the UPA, downplayed the talk and the resolution at the AICC which said coalition could not be at the cost of revival of the Congress itself particularly in States where its base had been eroded.

Mr. Bhandari said sometimes party leaders would have to play to the gallery and, therefore, they talked in such a tone.

The Left parties, as also the RJD and NCP, reminded the Congress that it should understand that the country was passing through a coalition era.

The CPI(M)’s Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Mohd. Salim, said the Congress needed to “reinvent itself” in this era of coalitions. Noting that the Congress had a record of flip-flops on the issue since the Pachmarhi meeting in 1998, he regretted that “Indian politics has entered into an era of coalition but our leaders have not.”

Mr. Raja said the Congress should remember that if any party tried to go beyond the limited mandate of a coalition then “there will be a problem.”

He lamented that the day-long meeting did not focus much attention on the problems of the common man about which the Congress says it cared for. There was hardly any discussion on the spate of suicides by farmers.

He also that said that there was no sharp ideological debate as in the past AICC sessions on issues such as public sector. The Congress’ new line on coalition has come four years after the Shimla brainstorming session of senior leaders of the party which called for coming together of secular forces. The Shimla resolve had helped the Congress come to power at the Centre in the May, 2004 Lok Sabha elections. — PTI

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