New Delhi: As exit polls predicted a neck and neck race, Congress expects President Pratibha Patil to go by the book and use the ‘yardstick of stability’ while extending invitation to form the next government.
Congress also extended an olive branch to Left parties, spearheading Third Front initiative, hoping that they will ‘follow their principled stand’ of fighting against communal parties.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s refrain in an interview was that the President should use the yardstick of stability and invite the side which will be able to provide a stable government.
“We expect the President to go by the book. She will go by the Constitution,” he said on the party’s expectation.
Asked whether the single largest party or alliance should be invited, Singh said: “Single largest party, this is something which is the discretion of the President. What is her assessment? Who will be able to give a stable government? Stability should be the yardstick.”
Seeking to woo the Left parties, he said that they are very pragmatic, practical and very political group which has been consistent in their approach in the fight against communal parties in the country.”
Singh said the Congress hoped that the Left parties would ‘follow their principled stand’ in the post 16 May scenario adding that the party would be ‘flexible’ in negotiations but the issue of leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ‘non-negotiable’.
On a query whether the Congress was contemplating sitting in the opposition like Rajiv Gandhi did even after emerging as the single largest party in 1989, Singh said that was a different period and time.
“Things have changed since then. The period was different,” the Congress leader said, ruling out the 1989 experiment when the party had decided to sit in the opposition paving way for the formation of the V.P. Singh government with the support of Left on one side and BJP on the other.
Singh, in-charge of the party affairs in UP, who is not on best of terms with Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, termed as ‘blessing in disguise’ the decision of the party not to ally with SP.
He also made it clear that the alliance in UP could not materialise due to the SP though Congress was all for it.
With the exit polls showing start of the revival process of the Congress in key Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Singh has big plans lined up for Uttar Pradesh, saying the party’s aim was to come to power on its own in the next Assembly polls scheduled in three years.
When told that the Left parties do not want to play second fiddle to Congress in the next government, Singh said that in a coalition government there is no first or second fiddle and Prime Minister is only the first among equals.
Asked whether the new allies of the Congress includes AIADMK, TDP and JD(U) and if it is possible for them to get the support of BSP, he merely said that the Congress would look at the issue when the results were out.
To a query whether party general secretary Rahul Gandhi should join the next government if the UPA was voted to power, he steered clear of the matter, saying it would be the personal decision of the young leader.
Questioned whether the Congress will reciprocate the gesture of the Left in 2004 and support it for government formation, the Congress leader said that it was a question of numbers.
“If they have numbers, We do not have a problem,” he said, adding that Rahul Gandhi has already indicated that if the Left gets 180 seats, the party does not have a problem.