Re-thinking pacts in Oppn camp after Pulwama

Re-thinking pacts in Oppn camp after Pulwama

Youth paint a wall to depict IAF's strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad's biggest camp and pay tribute to the slain CRPF jawans of Pulwama terror attack, in Kolkata on February 27. PTI

The perception of a post-Pulwama scenario tilting in favour of the ruling BJP has triggered a re-thinking in Congress and regional parties to rework the alliance formulae.

While a concrete realignment is yet to be worked out, there are indications of efforts to sew up an alliance with the Aaam Aadmi Party in Delhi, which the Congress had rejected till now, and finalise the pending seat-sharing in Bihar.

State Congress leaders huddled in a meeting with Delhi Congress chief and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to discuss the issue.

While no final decision has been announced, it is learnt that an arrangement of both the Congress and AAP contesting on three states with one seat going to a common candidate—BJP rebels Shtrughan Sinha or Yashwant Sinha — is being talked about.

Delhi Congress, is, however, still against any alliance with the AAP. Last month, at a meeting of Opposition leaders at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence, the idea of alliance between the Congress and AAP was discussed and Gandhi was under tremendous pressure from other Opposition parties to agree to such an arrangement.

On its part, the AAP had openly made an alliance offer to Congress with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, maintaining that it may prove advantageous to the BJP if both the Congress and AAP fight separately.

A top Congress leader is likely to visit Bihar to meet the jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad to thrash out the differences and delay in the RJD-Congress-RLSP-HAM grand alliance.

In the neighbouring Jharkhand as well, an announcement is likely as soon as tomorrow.

There is also a change in the political scene in Uttar Pradesh after entry of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the Congress face and the Pulwama terror attack, which culminated in the government carrying out air strikes on a JeM terror base across the border.

The SP and BSP, which had finalised their alliance in Uttar Pradesh drafting Ajit Singh’s RLD but keeping the Congress out of the anti-BJP alliance, were already taken aback by the Congress bringing out its trump card Priyanka Gandhi to lead the party's campaign and strategy in UP as AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh.

However, they still exuded confidence of being able to defeat BJP on their own banking of caste calculation of the support of base of two parties.

After the air strikes against Pakistan, there is a view in the Opposition camp that if the Congress, with Priyanka’s face, fights separately from SP-BSP-RLD alliance, it could now substantially help the BJP, which is already on a high after the air strikes. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP.

A senior Opposition leader speaking to DH said that it's high time the Opposition parties realise the need to fight the 2019 elections together, keeping aside their ego and narrow regional interests.

While the Congress and other Opposition parties have been guarded in their reactions on the Pulwama attack and its fall out, limiting it to hailing the valour of security forces and accusing BJP of trying to politically use the issue, the BJP has gone to town projecting the strike as a proof of strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking at the India Today conclave here, BJP chief Amit Shah described Pakistan releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in such a short span of time as "diplomatic victory".

He also asserted that the air-strikes after the Pulwama terror attack isolated Pakistan globally and that Modi government has been able to instill "fear" in those behind terrorism, sending a message that India is no longer ruled by the previous dispensation.

At the same event, former finance minister P Chidambaram hit back asking "can anything be more politicisation of that" while he referred to senior BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa that air strikes will help the BJP win 22 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox