Akhilesh Yadav targets Congress again; are the cracks in INDIA moving beyond repair?
In India, alliances are seen as a good move for political parties to pool their resources and increase their chances of electoral success. But INDIA, the 28-party Opposition alliance formed to unseat the ruling BJP from the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, seems to be going the exact opposite way. Not only is it still far away from chalking out a comprehensive strategy and seat-sharing plan against the saffron behemoth, its cohesion is actually waning and the differences within are growing. It is, however, no secret that keeping such alliances together can be a challenging task, especially if the member parties have only one thing in common — to make it to the Treasury benches. The recent fissures within INDIA, which include seat-sharing disputes, sharp criticism and name-calling, have raised questions about the prospects of it holding together. One of the early signs of trouble was the contentious issue of seat-sharing; even the third meeting for the purpose could not reach an understanding. Though the Congress enjoys a national presence, it is unavoidably juxtaposed to regional parties in most States such as UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Congress and these regional parties see each other as their main challengers. Now, if the Congress cannot downsize its seat share, the regional parties would not like it as it is their base and raison d'être.
A noticeable instance of discord within the INDIA bloc surfaced after JDU leader Nitish Kumar criticised the Congress for being so preoccupied with the Assembly elections in five States that it had little time to get the newly formed bloc moving. His criticism can be seen as a manifestation of the frustration that regional leaders sometimes feel within national alliances. Another blow came when former UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav referred to the Congress as a "chaalu party." The use of such derogatory terms for a partner not only reflects the bitterness in the relationship but also serves as political ammunition for the ruling party. As regional leaders aim to assert themselves, they may resort to public criticism of their partners. These internal conflicts can erode the alliance's credibility and give voters a reason to doubt its ability to provide stable and effective governance. But when there is no escaping such challenges, only a positive approach and determined effort can tidy up mutual differences. A realistic approach is indeed required on the part of all parties concerned. The electoral math suggests that they have a better shot in 2024 if they can make the contest one-on-one by giving a common candidate. The constituent parties must strike a balance between accommodating each other's regional and caste-based strengths while ensuring that the distribution of seats remains equitable. Disagreements over seat allocation can lead to frustration and mistrust among the alliance partners.