Rahul can wait, Cong open to Mamata, Mayawati as PM in 2019: sources

New Delhi: The Congress may have pitched for Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but on Tuesday the party gave indications that it is not averse to accepting a nominee for the top post from any Opposition alliance who does not have the backing of the RSS.

Top Congress sources while giving this indication also said that to prevent the BJP from coming back to power in 2019, the Congress will look to cobble up alliances with various parties in states.

On whether Congress president Rahul Gandhi will step aside for a woman candidate from a possible Opposition alliance, the sources said he “is comfortable seeing any prime minister other than an RSS-backed one”.

“Let’s see how the dice rolls,” the sources said.

There is speculation in the Opposition camp that a woman prime ministerial candidate may be projected in the next elections and names of BSP leader Mayawati and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee are doing the rounds.

After the meeting of the Congress Working committee (CWC) on Sunday, the Congress said Rahul Gandhi will be its prime ministerial face for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It also authorised Rahul Gandhi to forge alliances with “like-minded” political parties to take on the ruling BJP.

Stating that it’s going to be an “ideological fight”, the sources said the Congress has to bring all the opposition parties together to defeat the BJP.

“India in 2004 is different from 2014. This is beyond our regular political battle. It is for the first time all institutions are attacked,” the sources said and added, “the more the RSS attacks Congress, it will help the party to build.”

The sources further said that the Congress does not believe in “right or left” views but for a liberal and pragmatic space.

According to the sources, the Congress leadership is of the view that the BJP will be decimated without any “anger and disrespect”. The BJP will not get enough seats to win the next general polls as parties like the TDP and the Shiv Sena are not happy with the saffron party, the sources added.

For Narendra Modi to be the Prime Minister again, he has to get seats in the range of 280 and that is not going to happen, they said.

The sources said if grand anti-BJP alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work out fine, then it will be difficult for PM Modi to retain power.

While Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Bihar has 40 and the two together comprise over 22 per cent of the total strength of Lok Sabha members of 543.

Noting that the Congress is focussing on increasing women’s representation in the party, the sources said women leaders will be appointed in general secretary- level posts after they gain experience at different levels of party functioning.

On women’s reservation bill, they said it will be a “tactical win” if the legislation gets through Parliament. However, the party has to work a lot to ensure more women in politics and that it would work towards creating a positive atmosphere.

The sources further said India needs to be built with new ideas to address the challenges of farm crisis, unemployment among others but the Prime Minister is “running out of ideas” as he is working on the political architecture of the 1990s and the saffron party is allegedly working for few corporates.