Sonia camp leaders not happy with Team Rahul's alliance strategy

Hardeep Singh Bedi

New Delhi, March 23: The Congress leaders of Sonia Gandhi camp are not happy with Team Rahul 's alliance strategy, say sources.

These leaders, most of them in the last stage of their political career, are of the opinion that the Congress should have taken all possible steps to forge a grand alliance at the national level to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Team Rahul has wronged the equation of many regional parties, and hence not only leaders of Sonia camp but other opposition leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu, and Farooq Abdullah are also depressed, say sources.

It's not that Rahul Gandhi and now Congress general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, did not want to compromise slightly with regional parties. However, the results of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan reminded the Congress leadership is that defeating the BJP does not require regional parties.

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Sources tell One India that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo carried forward a theory that the entire Opposition should fight Lok Sabha elections against Prime Minister Modi. His suggestion was that all the parties of the alliance should fight the Lok Sabha polls under the leadership of the strong regional party of every state.

Pawar had also suggested that under this formula, all the prominent opposition leaders should address joint rallies across India to create an anti-Modi atmosphere.

He even discussed this idea with Rahul Gandhi many times but failed to convince the Congress President.

For, the Congress found itself out of alliance in many states under this formula. Uttar Pradesh is an example of it where the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) did not include the Congress in the alliance because Rahul was demanding more what was being offered.

The Congress faced the humiliation of worst kind when the BSP and the SP gave three seats to another regional party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, and only left two seats - Amethi and Raebareli - for Rahul and Sonia in UP, that too as a goodwill gesture.

Unsatisfied Congress announced that it would contest all 80 seats in UP.

Another example is the Congress has also rejected the Left Front 's offer of seat sharing in West Bengal and said it would fight in all 42 Lok Sabha seats of the state.

It is notable that recently Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee announced at "Save the Constitution" rally at Jantar Mantar that she was willing to work with anyone, including the Congress and the Left Front parties, to defeat the Narendra Modi government.

That same day, Banerjee attended a meeting of Opposition leaders at Sharad Pawar's home to chalk out their joint strategy for the general election. Rahul was also present in the meeting. They decided to form a national pre-poll alliance and frame a common minimum programme.

Sources say while Banerjee was not ready to give any respectable space to the Congress in her home state, she was very much interested in stitching an alliance between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi.

Sources tell One India that team Rahul did not join hands with the AAP in Delhi because it realized that doing so will strengthen a party that had ousted it from Delhi.

AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal was literally begging for an alliance with the Congress in the name of defeating Modi. When he failed then he started accusing that Congress didn't want to defeat Modi.

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"Kejriwal was seeking an alliance with the Congress mainly to prosper his party. In fact, the Congress has realised the agenda of the regional parties and intellectuals who wanted the grand old party to make all sorts of sacrifices in the name of dethroning Narendra Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress has understood that the regional parties want to strengthen themselves and hence is not ready to bow beyond its dignity," says a source.

"Team Rahul has realised that strong regional parties will ultimately become a threat for the Congress in the long run instead for the BJP or Narendra Modi," adds the source.

The source further says that the Congress also knows that the regional players want that if Rahul becomes Prime Minister then his remote control should be in their hands.

"Team Rahul is not ready for this. The priority of the Congress is to become the only alternative of the BJP at the national and state levels. This was evident with what Rahul said while launching his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in active politics," says the source.

In January, Rahul told media persons in Amethi that Priyanka and Jyotiraditya Scindia have been given the responsibility of not only 2019 Lok Sabha elections but also of forming a Congress government in UP.

The source claims that though the Congress is fighting 2019 Lok Sabha polls but it is actually preparing for 2024 general elections.

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