New Delhi: The Congress on Friday stemmed speculations of an alliance with the Shiv Sena for the 2019 general elections as the party revealed its strategy to halt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut.
The grand old party also clarified that a decision on the prime ministerial candidate would be taken after the election results, even as it left to the discretion of the state units the possibility of allying with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), sources said.
The Congress’s move to not announce a prime ministerial face is a departure from its oft-repeated stance of projecting party chief Rahul Gandhi for the top post.
At its working committee meeting, the senior leadership of the party had anointed Gandhi as the Congress’s face and backed him to lead the grand alliance of opposition parties.
However, Gandhi clarified that he would not mind supporting a candidate from one of the allies, so long as the person was not backed by the RSS.
With several permutations and combinations ahead of poll season, it was expected that the Congress would bank on stitching together a coalition with like-minded parties.
Given the Shiv Sena’s blow hot, blow cold relationship with its ally BJP, there were rumours doing the rounds that the grand old party would cash in on the political opportunity.
However, the party cited “ideological differences” to drive home the point that allying with the Sena was not on the cards.
Of late, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has been attacking the Modi government over its policies and has praised Gandhi’s leadership skills.
Gandhi’s birthday wishes for Thackeray were also seen as an overture by the Congress president and an indication of thawing ties between the two parties.
Several reports had suggested that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee would play an instrumental role in bringing the Sena and the Congress together to form a federal front against the BJP.