- Opposition parties would not project PM face for 2019 elections: Sources
- Congress has finalised its alliances for several states including Bihar
- Mamata Banerjee's has pitched for a collective leadership to take on BJP
PM Narendra Modi, expected to be the NDA's presumptive prime minister in the 2019 elections, will not have a direct contender from the opposition front. Congress sources on Friday confirmed that opposition parties putting up a united front against the NDA would not project a PM face in the run-up to the general elections, a clear hint that there is broad understanding among opposition parties against falling in, what has been described as the NDA's trap.
Congress sources said the party's strategy is to concentrate on firming up alliances with other parties for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections later this year.
The Congress is of the view that firming of proper opposition alliances in UP, Bihar and Maharashtra is crucial as the BJP can lose a major chunk of its seats in these states which would pave the way for the ouster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"To project a leader at this stage will be divisive," a Congress leader said, echoing Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's recent pitch for a collective leadership to take on the BJP.
Ms Banerjee has been seen as one of the key leaders of the opposition's fledgling united front aspiring to step into the PM's shoes. She has already taken the lead role to get opposition parties on the same page and planned a huge rally in Bengal next January that is seen as an attempt to project her as the cement that binds the front.
For now, the Congress believes that if the party is able to stich the right alliances, it would reap big gains in the states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh in next Lok Sabha polls that could help propel it to the centre-stage of an opposition alliance.
In Uttar Pradesh that sends 80 lawmakers to Lok Sabha, the Congress has already worked out a broad agreement with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Dalit powerhouse Mayawati and RLD leader Ajit Singh to take on the BJP. It already has an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra but is unlikely to tie up with the Shiv Sena, the BJP ally that has announced it would contest the 2019 elections on its own.
The Congress has already finalised its alliances for Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
For Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, it has worked out a seat-sharing formula with local heavyweights JMM and M Karunanidhi's DMK. The alliance in Tamil Nadu also includes the Left, which has agreed to work with the Congress in and outside parliament.
In Bihar, Congress' 'Grand Alliance' with Lalu Yadav stands despite a setback after Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal United's defection to the BJP.