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Business News/ Politics / News/  Is Congress' flawed strategy responsible for breakups in INDIA bloc as Lok Sabha polls near?
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Is Congress' flawed strategy responsible for breakups in INDIA bloc as Lok Sabha polls near?

The opposition INDIA bloc is currently facing a political crisis, highlighted by the departure of a key ally, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, from the alliance, opting to align with the BJP-led NDA ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and NCP chief Sharad Pawar with INDIA alliance leaders during a protest dharna against the suspension of MPs at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 22, 2023. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)Premium
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and NCP chief Sharad Pawar with INDIA alliance leaders during a protest dharna against the suspension of MPs at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 22, 2023. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The opposition INDIA bloc is in the grip of a political crisis as a key alliance partner, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, ditched the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and returned to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) fold ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Apart from private meetings succeeded by press briefings, the INDIA bloc, formed seven months ago in Patna, has not conducted any significant public outreach programmes. With time ticking away, there is a lack of clarity on when the bloc will finalise the allocation of seats among its member parties.

Nitish Kumar played a pivotal role in the INDIA bloc, a coalition of 28 opposition parties. His exit shortly before the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 is anticipated to have repercussions on the alliance. Nitish Kumar, while announcing his resignation and the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly on Sunday, cited that the situation arose because “not everything was alright."

JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi attributed the breakdown of the INDIA bloc in Bihar to the Congress, stating that Congress leaders prioritised strengthening their party over the opposition grouping, as conveyed to ANI. Tyagi had even accused a section of the Congress leadership of repeatedly "insulting" Nitish Kumar.

However, after Kumar's exit, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut claimed, “The Congress was in favour of appointing Nitish as the convenor of the INDIA bloc."

All is 'not' well with the rest of the parties?

Trinamool Congress (TMC)

Nitish Kumar's exit marks the second setback for the INDIA alliance, coming in the wake of recent developments in West Bengal, including the announcement by Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee chose to break ties with the Congress and opt for an independent path in the upcoming Lok Sabha election in the state, just a day before Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra was set to begin in the state.

Also Read: Mamata Banerjee blames Congress for seat-sharing delay over ‘unjust’ demands, Rahul says ‘Bengal CM close to…’

The rift between the TMC and the Congress escalated as state unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury persistently criticised the Bengal chief minister. During a press conference on Tuesday, Adhir Chowdhury asserted that Mamata Banerjee attained power in the 2011 elections thanks to the support of the Congress party.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

The JD(U) chief's resignation occurred shortly after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab dismissed speculations about a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress in the state for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Also Read: No AAP alliance with Congress in Punjab for 2024 Lok Sabha polls: CM Bhagwant Mann

AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated on Sunday that his party would independently contest all 90 assembly seats in Haryana. However, he mentioned that the Lok Sabha elections would be contested as part of the INDIA bloc. Kejriwal's declaration follows the recent decision by AAP, a member of the INDIA bloc, to rule out any alliance with the Congress in Punjab for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Samajwadi Party (SP)

The Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) expressed dissatisfaction with the allocation of 18 seats offered by the Samajwadi Party (SP) to the two INDIA bloc allies in Uttar Pradesh as part of the seat-sharing arrangement for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The SP proposed 11 seats for the Congress and seven seats for the RLD in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The Congress is insisting on receiving at least the 22 seats it secured in 2009, while the RLD is seeking eight seats in the politically significant state, which comprises a total of 80 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Discontent with the seats allocated by the SP, a senior leader told PTI that the RLD conveyed that the party is seeking an additional seat. However, Akhilesh Yadav said in a post on X that the party's cordial alliance with the Congress is off to a “good start".

Also Read: ‘Can't have one-size-fits-all…’: Shashi Tharoor as INDIA bloc allies announce solo fights for 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

In the present Lok Sabha, the SP holds three seats, and the BSP has 10 representatives. Sonia Gandhi is the sole Congress Member of Parliament from the state, representing the Rae Bareli constituency. The Apna Dal (Sonelal) has secured two Lok Sabha seats, while the BJP has 64 seats in the state.

Opposition leaders have expressed doubts regarding the Congress party's choice to opt out of the alliance collaboration in the state elections. Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and a prominent leader of a regional party in the state, remarked that the Congress only “remembered the I.N.D.I.A. alliance after three months."

Earlier on July 18, led by Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress party, 26 opposition parties rebranded themselves as INDIA, standing for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, replacing their previous name UPA or United Progressive Alliance.

The outcome of the parliamentary coalition against the BJP, the current ruling party, in the 2024 general elections remains uncertain.

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Published: 30 Jan 2024, 03:51 PM IST
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