Congress cornered as key allies start flexing muscles

NEW DELHI: The Congress is finding itself cornered as key allies have started flexing their muscles. In the past couple of weeks, the party’s key allies in the Hindi heartland have been giving the Congress a major cause of concern before the Lok Sabha elections next year.

Earlier this week, Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav was in New Delhi but refused to meet Congress leaders. Instead, he called on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and even tweeted a picture with him that started the rumour mills buzzing about a prospective political arrangement between the RJD and the AAP.

Interestingly, even after several requests, the AICC in-charge of Bihar, Bhakta Charan Das, has not managed to meet either chief minister Nitish Kumar or deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. Currently, the three parties – Congress, JD(U) and RJD -- are part of a coalition government in Bihar. It has been two days since RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav has returned from Singapore after several surgeries and a kidney replacement, but Congress leaders have not found the time to visit their oldest ally.

Last week, a war of words erupted between Bihar PCC chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh and deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav when the latter said there has been no talk of a Cabinet expansion. The Congress has two ministers in the Bihar Cabinet and has been demanding more berths, as five Cabinet berths in the state are still vacant. Hitting back, the Bihar Congress chief said Cabinet expansion was the prerogative of the CM and it was immaterial what others said about it. As of now, there has been no Cabinet expansion, and people in the know say no such move is in the offing.

By skipping the concluding event of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar led by Rahul Gandhi, despite being invited by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, both the RJD and the JD(U) have made their intent very clear: that Congress isn’t their priority. Similarly, last month, at a BRS rally, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav along with the Left leaders, were in attendance. The SP too gave a miss to the concluding event of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Many leaders in the Congress feel that managing allies has become a serious problem for the Congress. One leader, who sought anonymity, said: “Earlier it was Ahmed Patel who would prevail over the allies. He is no more now. Ghulam Nabi Azad would also do it… but he too has gone. Now we have very few leaders with heft at the central AICC level.”

The Lok Sabha polls are approaching, and if the Congress wants to be seen as the leader of the grand alliance to take on the BJP juggernaut, it will have to sort out its ally trouble.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story