With elections round the corner, opposition speeds up grand alliance talks

Sources said Congress high command is working on a Common Minimum Programme

[FILE] Leaders of opposition parties during the swearing in of Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy | PTI [FILE] Leaders of opposition parties during the swearing in of Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy | PTI

With only a few months left for the general elections, the opposition’s move to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party from forming the government at the Centre has picked up momentum. Their strategy to take on the saffron party by forming a grand alliance has started taking shape, though at present it is in an embryonic stage.

Congress insiders said on the condition of anonymity that the party high command has been working on a CMP (Common Minimum Programme) to forge an alliance with other like-minded parties. The seat sharing will be decided at a later stage. 

Besides Congress leaders like Ahamed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, leaders of other parties, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, are also actively working hard to give shape to the alliance.

It is learnt that Sharad Pawar has met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BSP chief Mayawati.

The opposition strategists feel that if the “grand alliance” gives a tough fight to the BJP in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajashtan, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal, it would be very difficult for the ruling party to retain power.

Among these, Uttar Pradesh is politically most crucial. In 2014 polls, BJP had won 71 seats from the state.

However, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party formed an alliance for the recently held by-polls and toppled the BJP in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Kairana and Noorpur (Assembly).

The recently held national executive of the SP has authorised its president, Akhilesh Yadav, for the distribution of seats with the allies. This amply vindicates that the SP and the BSP have agreed for a pact in principle. A couple of months ago, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had met BSP chief Mayawati and discussed the modalities of the pact.

It is believed that out of the 80 parliamentary seats, the SP and BSP can share close to 35 seats between them and remaining five to seven seats can be given to the Congress while two-three seats may go to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal in the western UP districts. Akhilesh has indicated that for upcoming polls, his party is ready to make sacrifice in favour of the BSP.

In Rajashthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, BSP and SP are keen for an alliance but its final shape will emerge after a few months.

The Congress leaders are tight-lipped about how many seats the party will leave for its allies, all over India, but speculation are there that the Congress may contest between 350 to 375 seats and give rest to the allies.