After failing to move out of its dismal number 3 spot in Delhi on Wednesday, the Congress has reached out to other opposition and regional parties asking them to end what it called their "anti-Congress" stance and focus on the BJP, which has been unstoppable in recent elections. The realisation that urgent action is needed struck as the Congress put up another bleak show in the Delhi civic elections, which the BJP has won by huge margins. Even Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, struggling to find its political feet again, has won more wards than the Congress.
- Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is trying to unite the opposition against BJP
- She recently met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Sitaram Yechury
- Sources said the Congress' appeal is specific to parties like the AAP
"Hope all regional parties will now realise that blind anti-Congressism is not the way. Country must come first in battle of ideologies," said senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. The Delhi result on Wednesday continues a string of setbacks for the party ever since it could win only 44 parliament seats in the 2014 national election, its lowest tally ever. Sources said the Congress' appeal is specific to parties like the AAP.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has recently taken the lead in trying to get opposition parties together. She has met leaders like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Left's Sitaram Yechury to discuss fielding a consensus opposition candidate for President to take on the nominee of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in elections to be held in July this year. It is seen as a trial balloon to test the feasibility of a larger opposition alliance for the 2019 national election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek another term.
Sharad Yadav of Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, who too met Mrs Gandhi on Tuesday, said after the election results, "All opposition parties must come together. Their being scattered leads to votes being divided," and also added, "It is not important who will lead such an alliance. What matters is getting everyone together on one platform first."
The unity move comes after the BJP managed to set up governments in four states last month, in Uttar Pardesh and Uttarakhand with landslide wins and in Goa and Manipur by outsmarting the Congress, which was the largest party in both but failed to move fast enough to secure the support of regional parties.
Both the Congress' Delhi chief Ajay Maken and the party's central leader in charge of Delhi, PC Chacko resigned on Wednesday owning responsibility for the party's poor performance. Mr Chacko said he was unable to fashion a comeback for the party and suggested that the Congress ascertain the reasons for its defeat in Delhi and redefine its future strategy. The party had won no seat in the 2015 assembly election in Delhi, nor a single parliament seat from the state a year before that.
The Congress could only win 30 wards in the three municipal corporations, but has increased its vote share from about 9 per cent in the 2015 assembly elections to 21 per cent on Wednesday.