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Congress open to alliance with BSP, SP

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, FEB. 28. The Congress spokesperson, Ashwini Kumar, today claimed that the Congress-led alliance would emerge as the biggest coalition at the Centre after the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The coalition would decide on the future Prime Minister of the country, he said.

Talking to mediapersons at Indira Gandhi Bhavan, the party's State headquarters here, Mr. Kumar said the Congress had already tied up with as many as 14 political parties and the number of partners could go up to 23. The party was still hopeful of a tie-up with the Bahaujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh even as it is keeping the door open for Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party.

Mr. Kumar, who was in Jaipur to participate in the convention of the Congress intellectual cell here, said the party would fight the elections in Uttar Pradesh with all its strength. Negotiations with the Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh too were in the final stage, he added.

The Congress spokesperson confessed that the party was not in a position to say anything concrete about its alliance with BSP. As for Mulayam Singh, the Congress agreed with him on many points but had differences on certain others.

However, the Congress expected both these parties to take a stand which would not fritter away the secular votes, he said.

"In this electoral Mahabharat any secular party willing to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party is welcome,'' Mr. Kumar said responding to a question whether it would be possible for the Congress to have an alliance with both the BSP and the SP at the same time. "Nothing can be better than such a situation but it would all depend on both Mr. Yadav and Ms. Mayawati,'' he said.

Mr. Kumar said that the Left Parties would, as in the past, rally round the secular forces for a post- poll alliance. "We are not saying that it is a pre-poll alliance,'' he pointed out.

The 14 parties that make up the allies listed by the Congress include the Nationalist Congress Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the DMK, PMK and MDMK, the breakaway group of the Biju Janata Dal, Lok Jan Shakti and the People's Democratic Party. "We are not counting out any political party at the regional or national level when it comes to fighting against the BJP,'' Mr. Kumar claimed.

The Congress considered the coming Lok Sabha elections crucial as it would decide the future of the nation, Mr. Kumar observed. He disclosed that the party would call the bluff of the BJP's "India Shining'' campaign in three documents -- the party manifesto, the vision statement and the empowerment document -- to be released shortly by the party president, Sonia Gandhi.

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