Congress Confident, Left Defiant on Alliance

Left parties on Tuesday rebuked Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s attempts to woo them back into the UPA – the Congress-led coalition that suffered its biggest setback with the comrades almost managing to pull the rug from under its feet last year.

Though Congress managed to cobble support to save the Manmohan Singh government, the script just might play out a little differently this time around, especially as top Left leaders – AB Bardhan, Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury – echoed sentiments negating possibilities of post-poll support to the grand old party.

Speaking in New Delhi, CPI general secretary AB Bardhan said: “I don’t think the Left will oblige them (Congress) this time” before adding that the Congress was “nervous” about election results.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary too chipped in saying: “Our stand is for a non-Congress, non-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government.”

Earlier in the day Rahul Gandhi had said that the field was open for post-poll alliances and had expressed confidence of the Congress managing Left support for a government led by Manmohan Singh.

Surprisingly, Gandhi’s remarks came days after he launched a blistering campaign against the Left parties in West Bengal.

Lampooning the Left parties, the young parliamentarian added that even the Congress would support the comrades if they managed to win around 170-180 seats.

Brinda Karat, member of the CPI-M central committee, said that Left parties were determined to usher in “an alternative secular government at the centre.”

She said Rahul Gandhi’s statement amounted to conceding defeat in the Lok Sabha  polls.

“Basically the party is conceding defeat. He knows the Congress will not have the numbers and that is why he is talking of a post-poll alliance,” she claimed.

Providing a sneak preview of post-poll Left plans, she said that the communist grouping was in talks with future allies, who she said could “join us after the polls.”

Incidentally, the Left is at the nucleus the anti-Congress, anti-BJP Third Front alliance.

Mincing no words, Brinda Karat added that Left parties were confident of the Third Front managing to cobble support for a government and said: “Congress general secretary’s confidence is misplaced.”

The Left parties, with over 60 Lok Sabha seats in 2004, were instrumental in gluing together the Congress-led UPA government. But the allies were estranged after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dug in his heels over the Indo-US nuclear agreement, leading to the Communist parties unanimously deciding to withdraw crucial outside support, they lent the government.

With no signs of a re-alliance between the two sides, the Congress struck a pre-poll deal with the anti-Left Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.

Though the Trinamool party – led by Mamata Banerjee – had only managed a single seat in 2004 poll pundits suggest that she just might romp in with slightly better figures this year.

“The Left can only ill-afford support to the Congress, especially as stepping back into the alliance – without consensus on the controversial nuclear agreement – would lead to their earlier (withdrawal of support) action being construed as political arm twisting,” they add.

Some others suggest that better poll showing by the Trinamool-Congress alliance in the Left bastion of West Bengal could also thwart any partnership prospects between the Left and Congress, especially as Mamata Banerjee and Left parties could not stand on the same side of a government.

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