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Congress 'Strikes Deal' With SP, BSP to Take on BJP in UP, Will Not Project PM Face for 2019

Sources said Congress is confident of a victory in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections later this year, where it is unlikely to project a chief ministerial candidate.

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Updated:August 3, 2018, 11:50 PM IST
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Congress 'Strikes Deal' With SP, BSP to Take on BJP in UP, Will Not Project PM Face for 2019
(From left) File photo of Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
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New Delhi: A broad consensus has been reached among various opposition parties to unitedly take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, top Congress sources said on Friday.

The Congress is of the view that firming of proper opposition alliances in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra is crucial as the BJP can lose a major chunk of its seats in these states, which would pave the way for the ouster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A “broad strategic understanding” between the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress in politically crucial UP, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, has been struck and details of seat-sharing are being worked out, the sources said.

The party believes it is likely to reap big gains in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and some others in next Lok Sabha polls that will help catapult it to the centre-stage of an opposition alliance.

The grand old party also clarified that a decision on the prime ministerial candidate would be taken after the election results.

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.

The sources said the Congress was looking at a two-stage action plan for the 2019 general elections, under which it will first bring on board all opposition parties to defeat Modi and the BJP/RSS and the leadership issue will be taken up on the basis of election results.

The Congress feels that discussing a post poll scenario could prove counter-productive and "divisive" for the opposition alliance, they pointed out.

The party has to forge alliances for short-term goals in various states, but an opportunity was emerging for the party to strengthen its base in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the sources said.

With Congress authorising party chief Rahul Gandhi to forge such alliances with like-minded parties on state-to-state basis, party insiders say views of state units will be taken into consideration before such tie-ups. The interests of state PCCs will be protected before forging any state-level or national tie-ups, the sources said.

The Congress also feels that it will win the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections later this year, where it is unlikely to project a chief ministerial candidate. The party will focus on selection of right candidates for these elections, the sources said.

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