Cong scrambles for poll alliance

Attempts to thwart power bid by Modi

Cong scrambles for poll alliance

Ahead of elections, the Congress has begun reaching out to estra­n­ged allies and scouting new partners to thwart the agg­ressive efforts for power being made by Bharatiya Ja­n­ata Party’s prime mi­nisterial candidate Narendra Modi.

While senior Congress leader and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad met Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo M Karunanidhi, party chief Sonia Gandhi has held meetings with warring Bihar partners Rashtriya Janata Party (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ramvilas Paswan.

Paswan met the Congress president on Saturday with a request to take a lead in firming up a secular alliance in the eastern state. 

The LJP is said to enjoy the backing of the Paswan community, which forms 7 per cent of Bihar’s population and is known to vote en block.

This makes the LJP a key partner in Bihar, where the Congress is looking for a three-way alliance. The party is veering towards forging a grand alliance with the RJD and LJP, which leaders from the state believe would be a “formidable” combination to take on a resurgent BJP.No image building

A section of the Congress leaders are keen on an alliance with the Janata Dal (United) but  decision makers are understood to have given priority to stopping the “communal forces” over “image building”. An argument in the Congress was that an alliance with Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted in a corruption case, would go against the strong ant-graft line taken by Rahul Gandhi.

On Thursday, Azad met Karunanidhi in Chennai and is learnt to have discussed an electoral understanding with the DMK for the Lok Sabha elections. 

The DMK snapped ties with the Congress last year over the 2G spectrum allocation scam and had declared that it would contest the Lok Sabha polls on its own.

Azad had maintained that he met the DMK chief as a matter of courtesy but also asserted that the DMK and Congress respect each other and have never fought with each other.

In the north, the Congress feels that an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would stand in good stead for the Lok Sabha elections. Not that the Congress has much option in the crucial state that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

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