Pranab Mukherjee’s take on coalition may hurt Congress, boost Narendra Modi’s 2019 prospects; here’s why

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New Delhi | Updated: October 16, 2017 5:33:21 PM

Former President Pranab Mukherjee has said something the Congress should be wary of in the run up to next General Elections in 2019.

pranab mukherjee, congress, narendra modi, 2019 general elections, general elections 2019, pranab mukherjee bookFormer President Pranab Mukherjee. (PTI file)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee has said something the Congress should be wary of in the run up to next General Elections in 2019. At present, Congress is trying to stitch an alliance with regional parties with the sole aim of dethroning Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the Congress has not been able to come up with a clear plan, detailing the vision of such a coalition and the role smaller parties would play. Moreover, regional parties are concerned about the impact such an alliance may have on their own prospects in future.

In past, several coalition governments at the Centre, as well as in states, have failed to complete their terms for one simple reason – all parties are driven by their own interests. Mukherjee argues that sewing up alliances just for the sake of forming a government would only dilute the identity of the Congress party. In his book ‘The Coalition Years: 1996 to 2012′, Mukherjee has said he was not in favour of the Congress’ 2003 decision to forge alliances to defeat BJP in the 2004 General Elections.

Referring to Congress’s decision at Shimla conclave in 2003 to enter into a coalition with secular parties to defeat the BJP, Mukherjee said, “The issue of being open to forming a coalition was certainly a change of tack from the Panchmarhi conclave where we had agreed that coalitions will be considered where absolutely necessary.”

While Mukherjee asserts that his view remains unchanged even today, Congress is trying to repeat the same for 2019 even as situations are completely different. In 2003, the Congress coalition was pitted against a similar coalition led by BJP. The saffron party didn’t have the brute majority as it enjoys today. Moreover, then BJP didn’t have someone like Modi. No doubt then BJP PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admired across the country, but he was not the vote-catching machine Modi has proved to be in the last three years.

A coalition of parties, which does not have a common vision and plan of action for India’s growth, is often a failure. The most recent example of this was witnessed in Bihar when a grand alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress, broke up just around two years after coming to power. The sole purpose behind the formation of the grand alliance was to stop Modi’s victory march. They succeeded but the grand alliance government failed.

The Congress not only needs to reconsider Mukherjee’s take on coalition in 2003 but also be wary of the fact that Modi thrives when he is under attack from all sides.

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