Congress keeps SP, RJD twisting in post-poll wind

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 19 2009, 03:36am hrs
A day after its impressive performance in the Lok Sabha elections powered the return of the UPA to the Centre, the Congress indicated that it may include only pre-poll allies in the new government, leaving out those who had parted company just before the polls the SP and RJD. It also said numbers for crossing the 272-mark in the Lok Sabha was not a big issue.

Meeting in New Delhi today, the Congress Working Committee, the partys highest decision-making body, discussed the scenario after the announcement of the results which have given it a near majority, but there was no specific mention of parties or individuals such as SP or RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

But the CWC was emphatic that discussions would be held on Tuesday with pre-poll allies, parties like DMK, Trinamool Congress and NCP, to discuss Cabinet formation.

The hour-long meeting took place immediately after the SP and Deve Gowdas JD(S) had offered to support the UPA which is about 11 seats short of 272, the number needed for a majority in the Lok Sabha.

Amid reports that the general view within the party was that the SP, which had been a difficult ally, should be kept out, although it has 23 seats, Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi said there was no discussion on specific individual or party at the CWC meeting. Lalu Prasad, whose RJD has four seats, has indicated he is keen to stay in the new Cabinet.

Dwivedi said the Congress Parliamentary Party will meet on Tuesday to elect its leader and chairperson after which talks will be held with pre-poll allies on government formation. Asked what he meant by pre-poll allies, he said you know what is the meaning of pre-poll allies.... I am not going to answer any question regarding any individual.

He said the numbers for the government was not a big issue.

A section of the Congress says the party voteshare is the same as that of the RJD and SP in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and, therefore, the Congress should keep distance from these parties to protect its own interest.