Respect alliances, but not at the cost of Congress' revival: Sonia

Jaipur, Jan 18 (IANS) Outlining the party's strategy with the 2014 general elections in mind, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday advised party workers to respect alliances but not at the expense of reviving the Congress and also voiced concern over its shrinking traditional support base.

Her candid statements came on a day when some party leaders frankly accepted that the Congress would not be able to make it on its own in the general elections.

Speaking at the inauguration of the party's 'Chintan Shivir' introspection session here, Gandhi said: "In states which we are in alliance, we have to strike a balance between respecting these alliances and ensuring that the party's rejuvenation is not compromised."

"The Congress is facing increased competition, and inroads have been made into its traditional support bases," she said.

In another frank observation, the party chief said: "There are some states where we have been out of power for too long... Although I believe that being in power is not the sole purpose of political activity, this does have an adverse impact on our morale and organsational ability."

Gandhi said the conclave had come at a time when the "party has been in power for nine years" but "is not governing a number of states and faces serious challenges in states long considered its bastions".

She said the party squandered many opportunities because it could not function as a disciplined and united team.

The Congress has been out of power in the major states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for decades, while it broke up its teetering alliance with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal last year.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is surviving on outside support of Samajwadi Party, and Bahujan Samaj Party which have 22 and 21 Lok Sabha members respectively.

Among the 12-odd states where the Congress rules, only Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam are major states. In Maharashtra, it is in an uneasy coalition with the Nationalist Congress Party.

In a reflection of the party thinking, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, known for his open views, was quoted by a TV news channel as saying the Congress might not be able to come back to power on its own in the next general elections. "The Congress has structural issues," he said.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram appeared to back him, when he said that it is difficult for any party to win absolute majority.

"Realistically, it is difficult for any party. But that doesn't mean a party should not aim to win absolute majority."

"There are some states where we are out of power for sometime. For example, Tamil Nadu. Those are the states where the climb would be very very steep", he added.

Asked to react to Ramesh's statement, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: "We're here to see we get the numbers and get our government in power."

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to pounce on the Congress' remarks, saying the party was not confident of winning on its own.

"For a moment I felt it was a 'Chinta Shivir' (worry meet) rather than 'Chintan Shivir'," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi.

She said the Congress president failed to address important issues such as price rise and corruption, about which people were concerned adding the party was merely doing lip service.

"For a national party prior to an election year, to start a review saying they may not be able to come back to power on their own is very good for the opposition party," Sitharaman said.

--Indo-Asian news Service

aag/rn/kbd/vd/vm

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Englishmen happy with 'Indian pitch' now

Englishmen happy with 'Indian pitch' now

TRENT BRIDGE, DAY 4: Root, Anderson smash 10th-wicket record, but India lead again. More »

Top Tenth Wicket Partnerships in Tests

Joe Root and James Anderson broke a Test record that had been establised just a year ago. Their tenth-wicket partnership of 198 in Trent Bridge is the… More »

De Kock, De Villiers fashion historic win

De Kock, De Villiers fashion historic win

South Africa, driven by twin centuries from Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers, secured their first ODI series win in Sri Lanka. More »

Top 10 Highest Test Scores By No. 11 Batsmen

James Anderson made 81 batting at No. 11 in the Trent Bridge Test against India. It's the third-highest Test score by a batsman playing in that position.… More »

Senanayake banned from bowling due to action

Senanayake banned from bowling due to action

The off-spinner has been banned after his action was found to be illegal following bio-mechanical assessment in Cardiff. More »

Ishant's rewards for the dirty work

Ishant's rewards for the dirty work

Ishant Sharma is an odd sort of an 'attack leader', averaging over 37 in Test cricket and not given the new ball. More »

[NOSTALGIA] Life with David Gower

[NOSTALGIA] Life with David Gower

David Gower was on the verge of being dropped for good at The Oval in 1990 before he scored a charismatic 157 against India. More »

Katich ends career with T20 retirement

Katich ends career with T20 retirement

Simon Katich has announced his retirement from T20s, thus ending his career as a player in all forms of the game. More »

Is this man the next Gilchrist?

Is this man the next Gilchrist?

The Western Australia wicketkeeper has the potential to be as good a batsman as Brad Haddin and possibly Adam Gilchrist, according to former Australia… More »

Tharanga recalled for South Africa Tests

Tharanga recalled for South Africa Tests

Sri Lanka opener Upul Tharanga, who last played a Test in 2007, has been recalled to the Test squad for the South Africa series. More »

Indian seam scuttles England

Indian seam scuttles England

1st TEST, 3rd DAY: Bhuvneshwar and Ishant combine for seven; England trail by 105, one wicket remaining. More »

Change of attitude aids remarkable stand

Change of attitude aids remarkable stand

India's recent track of record of lower-order runs is poor, but they began correcting that with a mammoth 10th wicket stand which showed the application… More »

Lack of leaders hurting England

Lack of leaders hurting England

It is not obvious who in the dressing room can revitalise England. More »

Why not to judge a pitch on day one

Why not to judge a pitch on day one

You could have egg on your face in no time... More »

[SCHEDULE]  India's bilateral matches

[SCHEDULE] India's bilateral matches

India's bilateral matches from Dec 2014 to Jan 2023. More »

The joy of one, the pain of another

The joy of one, the pain of another

The No. 11 of India's order did something the No. 1 of England's order can only dream of at the moment: score a Test fifty. More »

Gavaskar writes to SC about BCCI position

Gavaskar writes to SC about BCCI position

The former captain, who was put in-charge of BCCI for the duration of this year's IPL, has sought clarification about his current role. More »

Mohammad Kaif set for Andra move

Mohammad Kaif set for Andra move

Mohammad Kaif, the former India batsman, is set to leave Uttar Pradesh and join Andhra for the upcoming domestic season. More »

[PREVIEW] SL vs SA, 3rd ODI

[PREVIEW] SL vs SA, 3rd ODI

A quicker surface is expected in Hambantota as South Africa chase a series win against a team in form. More »

1st Test Live: Vijay, Pujara fall after century stand

1st Test Live: Vijay, Pujara fall after century stand

TRENT BRIDGE, DAY 4: Root, Anderson shatter 10th-wicket partnership record. More »

Bhuvneshwar, Shami in record-breaking stand

Bhuvneshwar, Shami in record-breaking stand

Indian batsmen, including the lower order, apply themselves to bat long periods collecting records along the way. More »

Cook's dismissal betrays frazzled mind

Cook's dismissal betrays frazzled mind

Some may say that the England captain's dismissal was unlucky, but it was the latest example of the demons he is battling as the form slump grows long… More »

India's opening conundrum

In the last three-and-half-years, India's opening combinations have averaged 18 per partnership overseas, with only one 50-plus stand in 35 attempts More »

Bracewell replaces Milne in NZ A squad

Bracewell replaces Milne in NZ A squad

Fast bowler Doug Bracewell has been called up to the New Zealand A squad for the tour of England as a replacement for the injured Adam Milne. More »