G. Krishnamohan Rao

The pre-poll alliance with JDS in Karnataka is being seen as a major breakthrough in the AICC establishment. The contours of the alliance announced yesterday in Bengaluru, as per sources, said that for 2019 lok sabha polls the JDs would concede as many as 24 lok sabha seats to Congress out of a total 28 seats.

At present BJP holds 17 of the 28 seats, while Congress has 9 and JDS 2. The joint vote share of of the Congress and JDS was 51.80 per cent--more than BJP's 43 per cent in 2014 lok sabha polls. This shows the clear arthimetic involved in it.

In order to establish its credentials as a main anti-BJP force, the Congress is getting ready for electoral battles against the ruling party at the Centre. The party wants to create an atmosphere across the country against the BJP by striking regional alliances. Despite faint murmurs, that Congress is buckling to the demands of smaller parties and playing second fiddle to them. It is clear that the Congress is going all out to forge regional alliances.

Since the party organisation is not in a strong position across the country, the compulsions for the Congress to go for alliances are increasing with every election. Sources say that the real challenge before Rahul Gandhi is in dealing with the internal equations in his party's state units and alliance partners. He needs to skillfully accomodate them without sacrificing the party interest.

Party sources said that the official line of the Congress is to go for possible pre-election alliances as indicated in the recent AICC plenary session in Delhi. The political resolution adopted at its 84th AICC plenary read " The Congress will adopt a pragmatic approach for cooperation with like-minded parties..... to defeat the BJP-RSS in the 2019 elections".

To begin with, Congress is holding talks with the AAP in Delhi. Though senior Congress leader Ajay Maken says that the Delhi unit of the Congress is against the alliance with AAP, inside sources say that finally it is going be settled with Congress getting 4 and 3 for AAP out of a total of 7 seats in the national capital.

It is said that the annoucement of pre-poll Congress -JDS alliance in Karnataka will put pressure on BSP chief Mayawati to come along too, considering she fought as part of JDS alliance in the recent assembly elections.

Further, Congress has opened its doors for consultations with Mayawati's BSP for a pre-poll alliance in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh assembly polls due this year-end. Congress is also roping in Gujarat leaders Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakur for its campaign.

It is known that earlier also the Congress had an alliance with RJD in Bihar and "at present the going is good with RJD" sources said striking a positive note for a likely understanding.

The recent Gondiya Lok Sabha poll result in Maharashtra has given a boost for a Congress and NCP alliance. It may be recalled that both parties had fought as an alliance in 2004 and 2009 assembly elections in Maharashtra.

Since the Congress is on a weak wicket in the major state of Uttar Pradesh, sources said that Congress will have to accept the number of seats given to it by the major coalition partners-- that is SP and BSP.