Polls over, INDIA bloc may resume seat talks
The 28-party opposition bloc is aiming to unitedly contest the next summer’s general elections against the ruling BJP.
New Delhi: The crucial seat-sharing talks among members of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections are likely to pick steam, as the opposition grouping has planned its next summit later this month, most probably around December 18 to 20, people familiar with the matter said.
The opposition bloc, comprising 28 political parties accounting for 240 of the 788 parliamentarians, is aiming to unitedly contest the next summer’s general elections against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by fielding common candidates in as many constituencies as possible.
However, the ambitious plan hinges largely on a successful seat-sharing plan that includes deft negotiations in several key states such as Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal, where INDIA constituents have remained rivals electorally.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) floor leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, who represented the Mamata Banerjee-led party at Telangana chief minister Revanth Reddy’s swearing-in ceremony in Hyderabad on Thursday, said: “The next meeting of the INDIA group will be held in Delhi on any day between December 18 and 20.”
Another non-Congress leader said, “The meeting will focus on the seat sharing.”
The opposition bloc is also planning another meeting in January.
The grouping was constituted in Patna on June 23, and it held two more meetings in Bengaluru (July 17-18) and in Mumbai (August 31-September 1) before the festive season and assembly elections in five states halted all activities of the alliance.
The upcoming meeting of the INDIA bloc comes close on the heels of the BJP defeating the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in what was dubbed as the virtual semifinal to the Lok Sabha polls next year. The Congress, hoping to gain from the assembly polls, had stalled the seat-sharing talks hoping it will have a better leverage. However, it lost four of five elections. Though the party won Telangana, its dismal head-to-head record against the BJP cast a long shadow on the party’s ability to put up a credible fight against the BJP in the Hindi belt, and effectively relegated it to southern India.
On Wednesday, the Congress also cancelled a hurriedly called meeting of INDIA leaders after three non-Congress chief ministers and a former chief minister refused to join on such short notice.
The parleys, however, restarted on Wednesday after Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge organised a meeting of the floor leaders of 17 parties of INDIA bloc for improved coordination in Parliament. In the meeting, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Janata Dal(United) demanded that seat-sharing talks should be concluded at the earliest.
In the last INDIA summit on September 1, the Opposition bloc had resolved that “seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take”.
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