New Delhi: Congress will hold its first crucial meeting on February 8 to explore pre-poll political alliances and chalk out strategy for the next general elections in 2014. This will be the first meeting of the sub-group on pre-poll alliances headed AK Antony, which was constituted days after party's Samvad Baithak in Surjakund on November 9. The sub-group is part of the Congress Coordination Committee headed by Rahul Gandhi for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Other members of the pre-poll alliances sub-group are M Veerappa Moily, Mukul Wasnik, Suresh Pachouri, Jitendra Singh and Mohan Prakash. Antony, who heads the sub group, had been the chief minister of Kerala, which has seen the Congress in the alliance mode for a long time under the banner of United Democratic Front.
There has been talk about formation of UPA III ahead of polls for quite some and several ministers including P Chidmabaram and Manish Tewari have already said that they recognise the reality of the coalitions. During the Sambad meeting on Novemebr 9, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had asked both the party and the government to work cohesively to ensure that the party secures a renewed mandate.
The meeting on the issue of coalition, which appears crucial for Congress to come back to power, takes place over a week after the party's two-day Chintan Shivir at Jaipur gave a call for uniting secular forces.
While Jaipur declaration of the Congress called on all secular and progressive forces to unite in ideological battle against those who polarise and divide the society, the party chief gave a message for striking a fine balance between forging alliances and strengthening the party.
"In states in 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," Gandhi had said. The first meeting of the sub-group is expected to give some concrete shape of the future course of the party on the issue of alliances.