After asserting several times that Rahul Gandhi will be the Prime Ministerial candidate, it is now reported that Congress party may be willing to sacrifice the top post to a regional party, in interests of grand coalition.
Sources close to the Congress said that if the coalition gets enough numbers in 2019 elections, and there is not enough consensus on a Congress nominee then the party would accommodate regional parties to put forward their candidate for Prime Minister’s position. The forerunners for the Prime Minister’s post from regional parties are TMC’s Mamata Banerjee and BSP’s Mayawati.
Among them, Mamata Banerjee’s case seems to be strongest as she is the current serving Chief Minister of West Bengal. On several occasions, Banerjee has made it clear that she eyes all 42 Loksabha seats from West Bengal in 2019. However BJP is also emphasizing on West Bengal and is working on a target of winning atleast 50% seats in the state.
Whereas despite recent setbacks, Mayawati’s BSP is hoping for a good performance by forming a coalition with their once arch-rivals Samajwadi Party.
Sources said the Congress party brass is expected to lay emphasis on being “accommodative” in order to appear as a coalition-builder.
Though Congress Working Committee reposed faith in Rahul Gandhi as the party’s PM nominee, sources said top leadership is of the opinion that the party needs to follow an open-minded approach while moving forward in talks with opposition parties. The sole focus of the party should be to oust the BJP-led government at the Centre rather than discussing the issue of leadership of the opposition bloc, sources said.
Congress as well as the Left parties are appearing increasingly confident about the prospects of the opposition bloc performing well in the 2019 elections with most key players exhibiting a keenness to be accommodative.
While this may comfort regional aspirants, Congress sources asserted it didn’t mean the party was willing to play second fiddle to regional forces. The broad consensus is that it is important to get together to defeat BJP and to ensure that the saffron outfit has little space for manoeuvrability.
(With inputs from TOI)