Congress open to post-poll alliances to retain power

April 1st, 2009 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bangalore, April 1 (IANS) The ruling Congress, which has pre-poll alliances in eight states across the country for the coming general elections, is open to post-poll alliances to remain in power even in a coalition set-up, a senior party leader said Wednesday.
“We are contesting in about 440 constituencies across the country and have seat-sharing agreements in eight states with regional/state parties. We are open to post-poll alliances to form the next government in case we fall short of numbers,” Congress leader and Union minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma told reporters here.

The grand old national party has a pre-poll alliance with the National Conference (NC) in Jammu & Kashmir, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Republican Party of India (RPI) in Maharashtra and the Dravidra Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, among others.

Though Sharma claimed that his party would win substantially more seats than it had won (145) in the 2004 elections to retain power, he hesitated to guess what would be the party’s final tally at the hustings.

“It is all about arithmetic. If we fall short of the target (simple majority), we may have to go for post-poll alliances as forming the government is a game of numbers,” Sharma said.

Though the Congress had contested in 417 constituencies in the 2004 elections, it could win only in 145, forcing it to go in for post-poll alliances with secular and left parties to form the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government.

Sharma declined to comment whether his party would be able to win at least 272 seats to form its own government as it was contesting in 440 constituencies across the country.

“It is too early to predict or estimate the exact number of seats our party will secure though we are confident of improving substantially upon the 2004 tally on the basis of our government’s performance under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the last five years,” Sharma pointed out.

Asked whether the Congress would be cold to the Left parties if they extend support again, Sharma said the party was not in a position to comment as it was contesting against them in a few states and it was too early to assess the post-poll position.

“The mindset of the Left parties is frozen in decades gone by. Their political presence and power in the country is diminishing by the day. We are contesting against them in several constituencies,” Sharma noted.

On the demand for a law to prevent defecting legislators from contesting in by-elections for five years, Sharma said there was need for a consensus on the issue among the political parties as it was part of electoral reforms.

“The Peoples Representation Act has to be amended. All political parties have to agree for such a law. We have to consult other parties for evolving a consensus on it,” Sharma said.

Sharma, however, parried all queries over the denial of ticket to M. Shivanna from the Chamarajanagar parliamentary constituency in the old Mysore region despite assurances by the party high command to the former Janata Dal-Secular MP for having voted in favour of the trust motion on the nuclear deal in July 2008.

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