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Rahul Gandhi open to alliances with regional parties

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi, DH News Service, Dec 10 2017, 16:29 IST
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, PTI File photo

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, PTI File photo

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is said to be willing and ready to take up the onerous task of sewing up alliances with regional players in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Hitherto, it was the outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi who was the most preferred choice of party leaders to keep the United Progressive Alliance as a cohesive unit for the 10 years it was in power or to meet new allies.

Despite his preference for the "go it alone" policy to rebuild the Congress party across the country, Rahul has realised the importance of forging a common front against the BJP. The ongoing Gujarat elections were a case in the point where Congress did not shy away from leaning on the emerging leadership of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani.

A big factor that would aid Rahul in forging new alliances is that there is a generational shift in the regional parties that have had a truck with Congress in the past.

Rahul's first efforts at working out a good chemistry with allies were witnessed in Uttar Pradesh that saw him hitting off well with Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav. He was helped by the good equations his sister Priyanka Vadra had with Akhilesh's wife Dimple.

Since then, Rahul has cultivated his personal relationship leaders of RJD and the DMK with whom he had some reservations. Rahul's unease with RJD boss Lalu Prasad was well-known when he tore up copies of a draft ordinance the UPA was planning to bring in to shield corrupt politicians.

However, Rahul has struck an easy working relationship with the second generation leaders such as Tejaswi Yadav of the RJD, M K Stalin and Kanimozhi of the DMK. Omar Abdullah of the National Conference is by now an "old friend".

"In the future, alliances will be forged by personal chemistry and perhaps without intermediaries," a senior Congress leader told Deccan Herald.

He said if alliances are not possible, there could be strategic understandings and a testing ground for such an experiment would be Uttar Pradesh where Congress is trying to rope in SP and Mayawati's BSP to take on the BJP.

Efforts were also afoot to bring Congress and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal closer to the anti-BJP front with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the lead.

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