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Business News/ News / India/  INDIA alliance shifts into election mode
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INDIA alliance shifts into election mode

But thorny issues loomed large over the bloc, which didn’t name a convener or unveil a logo—an issue that triggered some disquiet among constituents

Opposition leaders in Mumbai. (PTI)Premium
Opposition leaders in Mumbai. (PTI)

MUMBAI:The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a coalition of 28 opposition parties, shifted into election mode on Friday, initiating urgent talks on seat-sharing arrangements, key panels and a public campaign next month. The alliance is attempting to wrest back political momentum from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, which sparked furious speculation with the surprise declaration of a special session of Parliament in the third week of September.

A day after the government’s decision of the 18-22 September session sparked a buzz of a legislative move on simultaneous state and national elections, women’s reservations or big-bang announcements, the INDIA group tried to get battle-ready, forming five panels, including a 14-member coordination and election strategy committee, and deciding to campaign together for the 2024 elections.

But thorny issues loomed large over the bloc, which didn’t name a convener or unveil a logo—an issue that triggered some disquiet among constituents. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s early departure from a meeting sparked speculation about differences, but Trinamool Congress party members claimed it was only due to scheduling issues.

The election campaign is likely to start from Rajghat on 2 October, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, said a member aware of developments. The bloc will then unveil its vision on issues at the same place such as unemployment, price rise and Centre-state relations and announce a plan on alternative policies, the member added.

The meeting of the group in Mumbai marked its most productive gathering so far, and a shift away from the ideological issues discussed in earlier events in Patna and Bengaluru to a road map focused on the next general elections. But several leaders underlined the sense of urgency, saying elections could happen anytime soon—months ahead of schedule—and that the INDIA bloc needed to remain alert.

“We, the INDIA parties, hereby resolve to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible. Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take," said a resolution passed at the meeting. The bloc also decided to coordinate among members on political communication and media strategies under the campaign theme Judega Bharat, Jitega India in different languages. “Parties will organize public rallies at the earliest in different parts of the country on issues of public concern and importance," it added.

Though thorny questions of seat-sharing arrangements and leadership remained unresolved, leaders reminded each other of the need to pick the maximum number of common candidates, remain alert to threats to their unity, and show flexibility as seat pacts and smooth coordination are decisive factors for the group.

“We were not together earlier. We could not put common candidates in each seat, and (Narendra) Modi took advantage…We have arrived at a conclusion, and an organization has been formed. We will start the seat-sharing arrangements by accommodating everyone. There will be no hurdle," former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was “impressed" at the way differences were “ironed out" in the meeting.

“We will propose a clear set of ideas to benefit farmers and poor people. The real work in this alliance is the relationship forged between the leaders. I can say the two meetings have helped immensely to build a rapport, and we work as one team. There are differences, but I can see flexibilities," he said. Still, the differences were palpable, preventing the group from naming a convener. The coordination and election strategy committee comprised three former chief ministers—Sharad Pawar, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejasvi Yadav. Congress leader K.C. Venugopal, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s T.R. Baalu, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, Trinamool Congress’s second-in-command Abhishek Banerjee, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member Raghav Chadha, Samajwadi Party leader Javed Ali Khan, Janata Dal (United) leader Lallan Singh, and Communist Party of India general secretary D. Raja were the other members. The Communist Party of India-Marxist will also have a seat, but its nominee was not announced.

“We have put an infrastructure in place. We have committed ourselves to seat sharing. We will unveil our policies on 2 October ," said G. Devarajan of the Forward Bloc. A 19-member campaign committee, a 12-member working group for social media, a 19-member working group on media and a 11-member working group on research were also formed.

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Published: 01 Sep 2023, 11:21 PM IST
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