New Delhi, July 23: The Congress has authorised Rahul Gandhi to take a call on the alliances ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The first meeting of the newly revamped Congress Working Committee was held on Sunday and it was decided that the party would take on the BJP in 2019 with like-minded parties.
The Congress with a national presence fights the most number of Lok Sabha seats. The key for the party would however be its alliance partners. However with several other parties being part of a united opposition, it would be interesting to see if the Congress would get to be the lead partner in a possible alliance ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress is keeping a close eye on the Shiv Sena, BJD and TDP. The Shiv Sena has been sulking, while the TDP walked out of the NDA. In the recently held no-confidence motion moved by the TDP, the Shiv Sena and BJD did not vote. Moreover Amit Shah told party workers in Maharashtra that the BJP would fight the 2019 poll without the Shiv Sena.
The Congress will now constitute a committee to shortlist potential partners. Sources say that it is keeping a close eye on all those parties which have fallen out with the BJP. It would also look to target some leaders within the BJP who have been sulking off late.
The bigger hurdle for the Congress would be to overcome the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Akhikesh Yadav. The BSP has already made it clear that it would be projecting Mayawati as the first Dalit PM in the country.
The alliance in UP between the BSP and SP would be crucial. If the two parties come together in 2019, it could be a headache for the BJP. Moreover if the two parties get a lions share of the votes, the Congress may find it hard to push for Rahul as the PM candidate.
The other problem for the Congress is Mamata Banerjee. She could project herself as a PM candidate too. The other problem is that will Mamata's TMC be part of an alliance if the CPI(M) is also in it. The committee to be formed by the Congress would have to take stock of the situation before it finalises its allies.
Political observers say that the recent voting pattern during the no-confidence motion is something that the opposition would not be happy about. 126 voted for the motion as opposed to the mammoth 325 who sided with the BJP and voted against it. While the Congress may look to stitch up alliances, there is a distant possibility that there could be any finality before the elections, analysts also add.
The fence sitters would rather wait and watch for the final outcome of the Lok Sabha poll before taking any call on the matter. In case the BJP were to fall short, then there is a better chance of the alliance taking shape then, analysts also add.
How Lok Sabha voted:
The final count- Ayes-126 and Noes-325. The NDA's number which ought to have been at 312 came down to 294 with the Shiv Sena not voting. The BJP's sulking partner, Shiv Sena has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
While the NDA's number stood at 294 with the Shiv Sena staying away, it still managed to get a shot in the arm with the AIADMK backing it. With 37 MPs of the AIADMK, the final tally should have been at 331, but the board in the Lok Sabha showed the final count at 325. This is because, four AIADMK MPs and 2 from the BJP did not vote.
Kirti Azad of the BJP was not present as he was away from the country due to personal reasons. Vitthal Radadiya could not make it to the Lok Sabha on Friday owing to health reasons. For the NDA, the final tally would have been at 323, but two MPs were brought to the Lok Sabha on stretchers to vote.
The opposition should have 144 voting in favour of the motion. The tally however stood at 126. The TRS walked out before the vote, while the BJD abstained. Kamal Nath and Nonong Ering of the Congress were not present in the House and had sought prior permission for the same.
Among those who did not vote were, Shiv Sena (18), BJD (19), TRS (11), AIADMK (4), BJP (2) and Congress (2).