NEW DELHI: There cannot be an alliance of opposition parties without the Congress, which would be the fulcrum of any such front to take on the BJP in the 2019 general election, senior party leader Prithviraj Chavan has said.
He said the Congress continues to be a dominant force with its presence in almost all states and if at all anyone could take on the BJP, it would be the Grand Old Party.
"In no way there can be an opposition to the BJP without the Congress. It is just not possible. Congress is a pole of the equation no matter what. If one pole is the BJP, the other pole has to be the Congress," Chavan told PTI in an interview.
"Whether the Congress will be able to carry other political parties is a question. But if you say that (there is an alliance) without the Congress or the BJP, that will clearly be a non-starter," he said.
Amid the rise of regional players and marginalisation of the Congress, he said there are certain states where the Congress is the dominant force such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
However, in states where it is not a dominant force, it can play a secondary role, Chavan said and cited the examples of Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister said if the BSP moves along with the Congress it can be a force to reckon with.
Chavan said, "Nationally, it will be a sum of total, sum of states. Every state alliance has to be stitched state by state and then you add up the total".
If somebody says there will be a national alliance with somebody like Mamata Banerjee in it, without the Congress, then 'that is not possible", Chavan noted.
Asked why the Congress was not part of the understanding in Uttar Pradesh where the BSP and SP got together to defeat the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha bypolls, he said the main message of UP was that an alliance of like-minded parties can defeat the BJP in next elections.
"Broadly speaking, this was an unthinkable alliance. Mayawati and Mulayam and Akhilesh coming together was unthinkable -- the caste combination of Dalits and Yadavs coming together.
"That is a winning formula. Every state has a winning formula. In my state, if the NCP and the Congress come together and if they (BJP and Shiv Sena) don't fight together, then we will get the same result," he said.
On whether the bargaining power of the Congress was being reduced following repeated defeats in state elections, he said the Congress continues to be a dominant force in many states even now.
Asked if the Congress would be the fulcrum of an opposition alliance, Chavan said, "Because the Congress is the only party which is present in all the states. But there is anything plus or minus, we are there."
Admitting that the Congress has been sidelined in many states, he said, "if one looks at the totality of the country and adds up the numbers, we are still the largest, main opposition party".
Asked whether the Congress stood marginalised, he said, I don't think you can think of a situation at the moment when the Congress has become irrelevant and that other parties can come together and give challenge to the BJP.
" On the formation of a third front, he claimed that most parties that are seeking to play a major role in it do not have a standing beyond a single state and it is only the Congress which can steer everyone along due to its pan-India presence.