Churn in INDIA Bloc

| | New Delhi
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Churn in INDIA Bloc

Monday, 18 September 2023 | Deepak Kumar Jha | New Delhi

From seat-sharing to the boycott of certain media platforms to different tunes on the controversy over Sanatan Dharma, three major differences of opinion have already cropped up in the three-month-old Opposition parties coalition INDIA bloc.

Nonetheless couple of days after announcing that the INDIA alliance will hold its first public rally in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, difference within some of its stakeholders has led to calling off the rally supposed to be scheduled at Bhopal in first week of October.

Albeit the Congress in its just concluded Working Committee meeting at Hyderabad resolved to make INDIA initiative ideological, electoral success to free country from divisive politics.

Amid a raging row over DMK leaders’ remarks on Sanatan Dharma, sources said some Congress leaders in its CWC meeting called for a cautious approach on the matter and the party not getting drawn into the BJP’s agenda.

Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Soni Gandhi asked its leaders to avoid media for unnecessary controversy while JD(U) chief Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stated he does not support such a boycott of media and in similar vein leaders of Samajwadi Party too have decided not to get into the media boycott row terming it the ‘Congress agenda’. 

Sources said former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the CWC said instead of getting involved in the Sanatan Dharma row, the leaders should focus on the poor and their issues as they have been the party’s traditional vote bank.

Another major partners of INDIA alliance — the TMC and the AAP — have already distanced themselves from the Sanatan Dharma remarks by DMK leaders but maintained a status quo on the decision of media boycott.

DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin recently caused a storm as he alleged that Sanatan Dharma is against social justice and that it should be eradicated. Days later, DMK leader A Raja said Sanatan Dharma should be compared to diseases such as AIDS and leprosy that have a social stigma attached to them.

On the issue of seat sharing for the Lok Sabha polls 2024 amongst the coalition partners, negotiations between alliance partners may be undertaken by a representative of a political party which may have no presence in the current Lok Sabha. As of now INDIA bloc has about 28 partners including the bigger ones like Congress, TMC, RJD, JDU, NCP, Shive Sena, Left parties, AAP and others.

Sources from a party said as of now there is a consensus in the discussed formula for deciding on the strongest party in a State will take into account the results of previous elections.

“While the parties will finalise the formula at State level in their negotiations, it would be based on the results of last Lok Sabha elections, or the last Assembly elections, or both, depending on what the parties concerned decide,” explained the sources.

Further, in the States where there has been no previous alliance between the partners, or if there comes a deadlock in seat sharing then a neutral leader owing allegiance to a third State will help iron out the differences.

While the alliance is focused on Lok Sabha elections, with elections coming up in five States where the Congress has high stakes, a political party has suggested to reach an understanding where prospective partners can be accommodated to set an example of unity till the India bloc prepares and go public under one umbrella.

However, sources said the Congress will never agree to this ‘absurd’ equations as it’s already in power in Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh, and was in power in Madhya Pradesh in the last Assembly and is confident to form Government in Telangana where it also held its Congress Working Committee meeting this weekend. On Sunday the CWC passed a resolution to work towards forming a Congress Government in all the poll bound States.

Less troubling partners of India bloc like in States of Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu seat sharing process have gained momentum after the third meeting of the group held in Mumbai.

In the coordination committee meeting last week, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had suggested that seats which have an Opposition MP should not be disturbed. In the same meeting held at NCP chief Sharad Pawar residence it was decided that seat-sharing will be concluded at the earliest.

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