The statistical exercise—the first detailed effort undertaken by the AICC (made available to Outlook)—shows the party would have performed better in alliances with smaller parties, particularly the BSP. The AICC analysis has provided ammunition for the pro-alliance lobby, but still the five-member panel set up to probe the reasons for defeat is headed by veteran Pranab Mukherjee, a die-hard member of the anti-alliance group. The other members are P.R. Das Munshi, Mani Shankar Aiyer (pro-) and Prithviraj Chauhan (anti-) and Vijay Handique (neutral). Pranab now admits there are strong possibilities for alliances in Maharashtra (NCP), Tamil Nadu (DMK), AP (Telangana Rashtriya Samiti) and Uttar Pradesh (BSP, RLD and Rashtriya Kranti Party). "But it is hard for us to forge an NDA-style coalition because of our pan-Indian presence. We can't align with the TDP in Andhra or the BJD in Orissa or the Left in Kerala or West Bengal without liquidating our own party," he adds.
The most favoured potential alliance partner at the moment is the BSP. In MP, the Congress-BSP would have gained 35 more seats if they had been partners, says the party analysis. In Rajasthan, the two would have gained 26 seats and in Chhattisgarh net gains would have been seven.