In a major decision concerning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress on Sunday said that party chief Rahul Gandhi will take the decision on both pre and post-poll alliances.The party also said that he will be the face of the party in the campaign to oust the BJP and he will be the party's Prime Ministerial candidate.The decision to authorise Rahul Gandhi to take final call on alliances was taken at the meeting of an extended Congress Working Committee, where UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among senior leaders present.The decision about Rahul Gandhi being the final word on alliances comes amid perceptions that Sonia Gandhi has wider acceptability among present and potential allies and will be better placed to negotiate with them.Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, who briefed reporters after the CWC meeting here, said that the opposition party was prepared for a "larger alliance" to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next general elections."The CWC authorised Gandhi to take appropriate decision for pre- and post-poll alliances as well as to form a small committee for the purpose, if needed," he said, adding Gandhi may involve senior colleagues in negotiations.
The issue of alliances, which is crucial for Congress to come to power again, was discussed in detail at the CWC meeting. The Congress suffered a debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and has since lost several key states to the BJP.Rahul Gandhi told the meeting that he will negotiate on alliances "without compromising on the interests of the Congress" as also the national interest.Surjewala said Congress was fighting "the forces of subjugation and suppression who were denigrating democracy" and it was like the second freedom struggle."That ideology must be fought and India should be put back on the path of progress, peaceful coexistence and harmony," he said, adding that the party will seek to bring focus back on youth, farmers, Dalits, minorities, women and other weaker sections.Noting there is always give and take in alliances, he said: "Alliances can never be formed on rigidity and absolute stances and Congress President will decide."Asked about the party's reaction to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's call to people to give all 42 Lok Sabha seats to her Trinamool Congress, he said her statement should not be taken as final posture."When we talk to her, what decision is taken, we will inform you," he said.Asked if Rahul Gandhi will be the party's face, Surjewala said: "Congress will fight this election under the stewardship, leadership and by putting forward our leader Rahul Gandhi. On that we neither have a doubt, nor we have any second thoughts."Naturally the people of India will decide once the Congress becomes the single largest party, touches the magic figure of 200 or more. Naturally the Congress will be leading and whoever wants to come...naturally the Congress President will be the only face to be projected," he said.