Defeating BJP first aim, decision on PM after 2019 polls: Congress sources

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New Delhi : There is a feeling among the opposition parties that the primary task is to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and that the issue of prime ministership will be decided after the results based on the performance of each party, top Congress sources said here, asserting that a "strategic understanding" had been reached with the SP and BSP and the Congress on fighting the polls together in Uttar Pradesh.

The stance on leadership is different from that articulated in media reports last month where the party was seen to be willing to accept any opposition candidate as Prime Minister provided he had no links to RSS over any claims of Rahul Gandhi, who is the Congress candidate for the top post.

Party sources said "a strategic understanding" had been reached between the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to fight the Lok Sabha elections together in Uttar Pradesh and talks were being held between them.

The sources said that the Congress was unlikely to project a Chief Ministerial face in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where Assembly elections will be held at the end of this year.

They said that the issue of leadership was "divisive" and nothing should be done which can adversely affect the goal of opposition parties to defeat the BJP.

"There is a feeling among all opposition parties that primary job is to defeat institution capturing by RSS. What happens after elections will depend on how different parties perform, what elections have to show. We do not want to get into anything divisive," the party sources said.

They also said that the primary role of the Congress today was to bring opposition parties together. "There should be no confusion in that. We will defeat them by forging a platform," the sources said.

"There is a clear cut line. The first stage is to defeat the BJP together without confusion, without disruption. Stage two is the result. It (leadership) will be decided on that basis," they added.

The sources said if alliances were forged properly across the country, the BJP cannot win.

They said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will need at least 230 seats to be able to continue on the post after 2019 polls and if a proper alliance was stitched between opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, he would surely be defeated.

"Modi will need 230-240 seats to become Prime Minister after 2019 elections. Without this he can't be Prime Minister. There is a unique characteristic that if their allies get a choice, they will prefer someone else from the BJP.

"All opposition parties have accepted the need of coordination," the sources said.

They also said that the views of state leadership will be important in forging alliances and in places like Telangana and Delhi, where the units are fighting the ruling parties, their views were likely to prevail.

"The party will listen to state units. Broadly state units are clear, where alliance is beneficial, they will do it. Starting point is the state unit. Generally views of the state units will not be ruled out. Such states where state unit is directly fighting -- Telangana, Delhi -- the leadership will not ignore state units," the sources said.

The sources said the RSS - the ideological mentor of BJP - was trying to capture institutions and must be defeated.

"RSS is a cadre-based and a lot more. It is a threat to our institutional structures."

They said the Congress will fight a "decent number of Lok Sabha seats" and the party was unlikely to publicly state its winning target.

The sources said will perform significantly better in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarkhand.