Congress needs to be most accommodating for true rainbow coalition to emerge

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By Asim Kamal

NEW DELHI: The Congress will have to be “most accommodating” and give respect and support to the smaller parties for a “true rainbow coalition” to emerge, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president Jayant Chaudhary said on Sunday.

He, however, expressed confidence that a series of state-specific alliances, where like-minded parties would come together on an anti-BJP platform, was likely for the 2019 general election.

“Farm distress will be a key issue in our campaign,” Chaudhary told PTI in an interview.

RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan, who was supported by the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress, had triumphed over her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rival in the Kairana bypoll earlier this year and the Ajit Singh-led party has been advocating a “grand alliance” in Uttar Pradesh to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Chaudhary, the son of RLD president Ajit Singh and the grandson of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, said both he and his father will contest the 2019 election. However, he added that the constituencies would be announced later.

On the BSP’s decision to go alone in the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, he said BSP chief Mayawati had communicated her party’s decision with regard to the state polls through her statement.

Asked if the Congress would have to be more accommodating to give enough space to the regional parties, Chaudhary said, “The Congress is the largest opposition party in Parliament today. Definitely, it will have to be most accommodating and give respect and support to the smaller parties for a true rainbow coalition to emerge.

“But also, to increase the size of the pie, I think all the partners will need to not stress on individual sizes as much.”

Talking about the farmers’ march to Delhi last week, the RLD leader said the demands raised during the “yatra” received a huge support, especially on issues such as the rising costs of agriculture, debt relief and remunerative farm prices.

“In the past, there have been many social agitations in Delhi with a large number of people extending support. However, never have we seen a government so fearful of opposing voices, dissent and a people’s agitation,” he said.

Chaudhary also alleged that the BJP government was “adamant” not to allow the farmers to enter the national capital.

This only showed the arrogance of the rulers, he said.

“I am confident that the attempt at stifling dissent by employing the state machinery, whether in terms of police lathis or other means, will be punished by the voters,” the 39-year-old RLD leader said.

Talking about the issues his party will raise in the run-up to the 2019 polls, Chaudhary pointed out that the RLD had launched an innovative social media campaign, where it was asking the youth of Uttar Pradesh to take selfies with potholes, tag the party and participate in the “SelfieWithGaddha” campaign.

He said the party’s youth unit had recently organised three big events in Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur to highlight the disenchantment of the youth with the BJP government over its track record of job creation.

Youths are a key demographic that opposition parties need to engage with at all levels, Chaudhary said.

“The sugarcane issue is unfortunately far from being resolved. The farmers are not even getting the MSP for other crops. The rising diesel, electricity tariffs and fertiliser prices have further added to their distress,” Chaudhary said.

He accused the BJP government of having “failed” to tackle crime and corruption, while claiming that the “mishandling” of the economy was now hurting the middle class as well as small traders.

“So, the BJP will naturally divert the discourse away from these failures and talk about Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. However, the RLD has hit the ground and is taking the real issues to the voters,” Chaudhary asserted.

Political observers know that in northern India, both Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have strong regional parties which are working together, Chaudhary said, adding that this is the real mahagathbandhan , he said.

Source: Press Trust of India