Alliance issue ticklish for Congress

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) The issue of alliances in thecoming Assembly polls in five states including West Bengal andTamil Nadu is ticklish for the Congress with the regionalparties in both the states playing the ''big brother''.

Mamata Banerjee''s Trinamool Congress is virtuallyplaying the big brother in West Bengal with the Congress whichis all set to go with the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

DMK has quite an uphill task in the wake of the 2Gspectrum scam, but Congress leaders say that they have noother option but be a part of the DMK-led alliance in TamilNadu.

Banerjee met the Congress President Sonia Gandhi lastweek but there have been no details from either side about theparleys between the two top leaders, their first interactionin the new year with West Bengal polls just a few months away.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is visitingDelhi and will hold the talks with Congress President SoniaGandhi tomorrow to firm up alliance in the southern state.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently declared in Chennaithat the alliance was strong.

Privately, Tamil Nadu Congress leaders are singing adifferent tune. They say that since DMK is the third largestconstituent of the UPA at the Centre, the Congress cannotthink about any other ally in the state.

"The leadership wants the Centre to be safe andtherefore we have to go along with the DMK in the stateknowing pretty well that it was on the backfoot in the wake ofthe 2G spectrum scam," said a senior state leader, whodeclined to be identified.

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress has frowned uponstate Congress plans to demand 98 of the total 294 seats forforging an alliance for assembly elections expected to be heldby May.

A senior Trinamool leader, who declined to beidentified, has ridiculed the idea warning that Congress wouldbe playing into the hands of CPI(M) if it pitched for seatshigher than its strength. (More) PTI SPG AMR VSC DEP

Congress played a second fiddle to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, and there have beenheated exchanges between the two sides at the state level onthe issue of alliance.

Besides Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, Assembly polls arealso being held in Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.

Congress is leading the United Democratic Front of"like-minded" parties in Kerala for the past few decades andthis time the Front is in an upbeat mood after a good showingin the last Lok Sabha elections.

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is itstraditional rival in the state.

In Puducherry, the Congress is in power on its own whilein Assam, it is ruling with the support of a Bodo party.

Congress general Secretary Digvijay Singh, in charge ofparty''s affairs in Assam, has said that no decision has beentaken so far about going in for alliance in the state,indicating it could go alone.

Party President Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi hadremained silent on the issue of alliances at the party''splenary held here last month. The political resolution adoptedat the plenary had also skirted the issue.

Gandhi had only acknowledged the shock the partyreceived in the just concluded Assembly elections in Biharwhere it had contested on its own.

Talking in generalities, the political resolution hadmerely said the necessity of coalition politics at the centrallevel does not prevent party''s state-level workers from hopingand dreaming of a larger political space wherever they may beand "we as a party must be cognisant and supportive of theiraspirations." PTI SPG AMR DEP

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