Congress banks on its old UPA allies to shore up Lok Sabha tally

The realisation has come in the absence of a national-level coalition working out and broad hints from several regional parties that any such grouping is likely only after the polls. 

Published: 17th February 2019 01:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2019 11:30 AM   |  A+A-

Congress President Rahul Gandhi is being presented a sword by DMK president MK Stalin at a public meeting after unveiling a life-size bronze statue of late Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi at YMCA ground in Chennai. (Photo | PTI)

DMK chief MK Stalin with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi (File Photo: PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Congress is pinning hopes on old allies DMK, NCP and RJD to do well in their respective states — Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Bihar, respectively — and together take the UPA’s tally in the Lok Sabha elections to 200-plus seats so that it’s easy for the alliance to attract other regional parties. 

To shore up its own numbers, the Congress will focus on the 206 seats it had won in the 2009 polls to ensure that the party wins at least 150 seats to be able to anchor the coalition. “The 206 seats won in 2009 are low-hanging fruits, where we already have a base and can focus our energies on to consolidate our position,” a senior AICC functionary said.

The realisation has come in the absence of a national-level coalition working out and broad hints from several regional parties that any such grouping is likely only after the polls. 

However, Congress insiders feel everything cannot be left to the situation that emerges after the elections and that taking along time-tested allies like DMK, NCP and RJD is a good move. 

The SP and the BSP had supported the Congress-led UPA in 2009, but they have opted to fight the 2019 polls together keeping the Grand Old Party out in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. Out of the 206 seats in 2009, the Congress had bagged 22 (out of 80) in the state and hopes to reap a good harvest by going solo. 
Old-timers recall how the 145 seats the Congress had won in 2004 helped it forge the UPA.

The number has become relevant in 2019 as well.

“We need to be in the 150-range to anchor any coalition,” said a party strategist. Congress insiders said they were confident of crossing the 100-mark, based on the recent wins in the heartland states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, besides significant gains in Gujarat.

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