The general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, Janardan Dwivedi, has said that Congress will not have a “national alliance” in the upcoming general elections. Rather it will have only state-level “seat adjustments.” However, he denies that the United Progressive Alliance–the pre-electoral coalition headed by the Congress party that has governed India since 2004–is breaking up:
Of course, there is UPA. But UPA does not fight elections. It is the political parties in UPA which contest elections.
Seems we are down to semantic hair-splitting here. When one national party makes “seat adjustments” with numerous state and regional parties, by which the two parties agree not to contest single-seat district races against one another, that would appear to be a “national alliance.” And even one that fights elections.
The problem with calling it such is, for Congress, that several of its allies have ambitions to extend their current reach beyond the states where they currently have seats. Congress will not look kindly upon its alliance essentially becoming a bloc containing other “national” parties, as then it would be strengthening potential rivals rather than harnessing the local strength of its junior partners.
As the Hindustan Times further reports:
The Congress leader said that seat sharing will differ from state to state. “The state leadership (of Congress) will keep in view the local situation and the state level party (ally) and take a decision with the support of the AICC,” he added.
Dwivedi said, “Congress will seek votes on its own, except where it is in alliance”. In those states, where the party has entered into an alliance, it would seek the votes for its alliance partners also, the general secretary said.
Shock of shocks, Congress members want the party to maximize its own seats. However, it also needs to maximize the seats of the alliance, because it is the alliance that will form the government–if, that is, its election fight is successful.
So, yes, of course, the UPA is a national electoral alliance. Just don’t call it that.
This second piece also reports:
The party also denied having ever spoken of the country passing through “coalition era”