Will not sacrifice interests of state leaders for sake of alliances: Congress

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NEW DELHI: As parties put their heads together to cobble out an anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has struck a note of caution and said it will not ignore the interests of its state leaders for the sake of regional tie-ups.
Congress media head Randeep Surjewala has said that while the party has a time-tested policy of working with ideologically compatible parties, it will not abandon the interests of its state leaders.
“The Indian National Congress will never sacrifice the interests of a state leadership and aspirations of its workers. An ideal balance will be struck on a state to state basis,” Surjewala told PTI. He made the case for state-specific alliances while arguing for a larger coalition with like-minded parties in “national interest”.
“The Congress has a time-tested and well-defined policy of working hand in hand with ideologically compatible political parties,” he said. A committee headed by former minister A K Antony would take a final call on alliances after discussions with state leaders and those in charge of the states, he said. “In national interest, we shall further strengthen energies to bring together like-minded parties on a common platform and a common agenda. However, INC will never sacrifice the interests of a state leadership,” Surjewala said.
The reiteration of “state-specific tie-ups” comes when the Congress has been facing a rebellion in its Kerala unit after it decided to give up the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state to its estranged ally, the Kerala Congress (Mani). The KC (M) had quit the Congress-led UDF on the eve of the last state polls and contested by itself, making a dent in the Congress votes in the process.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s decision to give the party’s RS seat to the KC (M) was aimed at bringing the old ally back to the party fold ahead of the 2019 LS polls but led to unprecedented protests in the state party. As the Congress pursues an anti-NDA grouping, it would have to consider the possibility of regional parties demanding a bigger pie in the seat-sharing talks.