NEW DELHI: With the swearing-in ceremony just a few days away, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has congratulated Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi for his rather spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
Sonia is said to have written a congratulatory note to Modi two days ago, sources in the party said. After the results saw the Congress restricted to 44 seats in all, much less than what it had won even after the infamous Emergency in 1977, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi took responsibility for the debacle, but never wished or congratulated the BJP for its victory.
This was commented upon by the BJP leaders. Rajiv Gandhi had made history by not just congratulating V.P. Singh to whom he lost power in a similarly bitterly fought Lok Sabha polls in 1989, in the wake of the Bofors scandal, but had also gracefully escorting Singh-the new PM-to his seat in the Lok Sabha.
In the Congress Working Committee resolution, for the first time the party and its leadership, acknowledged the people’s verdict with “humility’’, while accepting the defeat. It was at the CWC meeting again that Sonia first congratulated the new government.
It also reliably learnt that the Congress Parliamentary Party, scheduled to meet on Saturday, is likely to re-elect Sonia Gandhi as the chairperson. With the party’s numbers not crossing 44, it now depends on the yet-to-be elected Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha to decide whether the grand old party can qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition.
Traditionally, the party wins 10 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats gets the LoP post.The Congress plans to retain the UPA coalition grouping in order to claim the constitutional post. It has the support of the NCP and RJD at the moment. It is not clear whether the SP and the BSP would want to be formally part of UPA, but JD-U may join.
TMC supremo and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has been trying to rope in the BJD and AIADMK to form an alternative opposition bloc and thereby claim the deputy speakers post. Neither Jayalalithaa nor Naveen Patnaik have revealed their cards.