Congress natural choice to lead UPA: Harish Rawat

Respect Sharad Pawar, but Congress natural choice to lead UPA: Harish Rawat

Rawat’s statement is an indication that the Congress was unwilling to cede the leadership role in taking on the BJP at the national level

 As Shiv Sena pitched for NCP chief Sharad Pawar as the leader of regional outfits, Congress on Sunday said that it alone can lead a national alliance against the BJP.

“It is but natural that the leadership of the coalition remains in the hands of the largest party in the alliance,” AICC General Secretary Harish Rawat said.

At the same time, Rawat, a former Uttarakhand chief minister, said that Pawar was an important leader of the United Progressive Alliance which was evident from the role he played in bringing diverse political parties together in Maharashtra.

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Rawat’s statement is an indication that the Congress was unwilling to cede the leadership role in taking on the BJP at the national level amid growing calls for opposition unity by regional outfits as they feel the heat from the Modi government.

Shiv Sena’s pitch for Pawar as the leader of regional parties also brought to the fore the tensions in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance which came to power in November last year.

Shiv Sena leaders were miffed at the Congress for pressurising Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over the issue of budgetary allocation for SC/ST in Maharashtra and going public with the letter written by AICC President Sonia Gandhi in this regard.

The editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna was seen as the outfit’s attempt to tell the Congress that it was not capable of taking on the BJP, particularly when regional outfits such as Trinamool, TRS, RJD were facing the heat from an aggressive BJP.

After being in power for 10 years, the present UPA appears to be a pale shadow of its past with only NCP and DMK being the active constituents of the coalition, while Congress is seen struggling to put its house in order.

Shiv Sena’s remarks also highlighted the inability of the Congress to reach out to all regional outfits such as Trinamool Congress and the TRS, whom it considers as political rivals.

Even when in government, Congress never projected a second rung leadership in the UPA and ignored the demands of convening a coordination committee meeting of the coalition leaders on important issues.