What were the INDIA bloc party chiefs doing after results day? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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What were the INDIA bloc party chiefs doing after results day?

Jan 12, 2024 11:28 AM IST

Wednesday’s meeting should have been between the party leaders, instead, it was deferred. The party chiefs were busy in their respective states

On December 3, after the electoral results of four assembly elections were announced — the Congress won Telangana, but received a drubbing in the Hindi heartland and failed to retain Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh; the Bharatiya Janata Party, in contrast, retained power in Madhya Pradesh and snatched majorities in the other two — questions began to be raised on the fate of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc. On Monday, the Congress announced that a meeting of leaders of parties was slated to take place on Wednesday, December 6 at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Opposition leaders during an INDIA meeting in Mumbai on September 1.. (PTI) PREMIUM
Opposition leaders during an INDIA meeting in Mumbai on September 1.. (PTI)

On December 3, after the electoral results of four assembly elections were announced — the Congress won Telangana, but received a drubbing in the Hindi heartland and failed to retain Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh; the Bharatiya Janata Party, in contrast, retained power in Madhya Pradesh and snatched majorities in the other two — questions began to be raised on the fate of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc. On Monday, the Congress announced that a meeting of leaders of parties was slated to take place on Wednesday, December 6 at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

However, after at least three non-Congress chief ministers and a former CM said that they would not be able to attend, a new meeting was announced for all heads of the 28-party grouping — this one, in the third week of December. Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Gurdip Singh Sappal edited his announcement on X (formerly Twitter) to state: "A coordination meeting of Parliamentary Party leaders of India Alliance will be at 6 pm on December 6th, 2023 at the residence of Congress President Sh. Mallikarjun Kharge. Thereafter, a meeting of Party Presidents/ Heads of the India Alliance will be scheduled in the third week of December at a date convenient to all". Here’s what the main INDIA bloc leaders were doing on Wednesday:

Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress

On December 4, at the ongoing winter session of the West Bengal assembly, chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said that if INDIA coalition partners were able to share seats effectively, the BJP would stand no chance in the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to reporters later that evening she said that she was not aware of the December 6 meeting. Party sources later said that Banerjee would not be able to attend the meeting as she had other personal engagements.

“Look at the figures. The BJP won by thin margins. It happened because of a split in (Opposition) votes. There should have been proper seat sharing,” Banerjee said in the assembly.

On Tuesday, Banerjee attended the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival. She led Bollywood stars including Salman Khan, Shatrughan Sinha, Sonakshi Sinha and Saurav Ganguly, to the stage and even shook a leg with them during the festival’s inauguration.

On Wednesday, the CM left for a week-long visit to north Bengal where she is scheduled to attend a slew of public programmes apart from a family wedding.

Nitish Kumar, Janata Dal (United)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was down with a throat infection on the day of the results, but resumed his work on Tuesday and even attended the state cabinet meeting, where he offered his inputs felicitating Karpoori Thakur, the late socialist leader and former minister of the state.

Janata Dal (United) party national president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh and water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha reached Delhi in advance to attend the INDIA bloc meeting that was eventually held on December 6 for the parliamentary party leaders. Nitish, however, on Wednesday reacted to election results and said that Congress had earlier won in these states but lost them this time around.

“These things happen. Congress got a good number of votes but BJP won. In Telangana, Congress won. Congratulations to all. These things do not need discussion. I only wish that Opposition unites quickly,” he said.

M K Stalin, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Soon after the results were declared — and the INDIA bloc meeting hurriedly called for Wednesday — Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin said that he would not be able to attend given the flooding and rains caused by Cyclone Michaung that made landfall on Tuesday.

However, sources close to the DMK said that the Congress' long-term ally and coalition partner in the UPA I and II regimes, is ostensibly weighing its options on the seat-sharing formula with the Congress for the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The Congress party's defeat in the Hindi heartland could be used to strike a tough bargain by the regional party to restrict the grant of seats to less than 10 in a 39-seat TN parliamentary contest — these subjects need to be discussed, and at the moment, the cyclone which has caused at least seven deaths in the state and affected over 40,000 persons who sought shelter in relief camps in the four worst affected districts, has taken centre stage.

A matter to be discussed, sources said, was the formation of a virtual bloc within INDIA with the Communist Party (Marxist) and TMC to corner the Congress and demand the status of an equal partnership for every member party of the opposition alliance. With the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam yet to strike a deal with the Congress in TN, the DMK has much to consider.

Sharad Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party and Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena (UBT)

Soon after BJP’s victory in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh became clear on December 3, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar clarified that the results of the assembly polls would not affect the INDIA alliance. Pawar also said that all leaders from the alliance would meet in Delhi on December 6 to analyse the results and decide the future course of action.

Pawar, a Rajya Sabha member, reached New Delhi on Monday to participate in the winter session of Parliament. He declared that he would participate in the INDIA alliance meeting — however, he did not attend the meeting on December 6 after it was decided that other parliamentary leaders of the parties would attend on Wednesday. Instead, Pawar paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President, Jagdeep Dhankhar (chairperson of the Upper House). He, along with party colleagues, also paid tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on Maha Parinirvana Diwas (death anniversary).

Meanwhile, speaking at a party function on the night the results were declared, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray advised the Congress to introspect on its results, but his party’s leaders said that Thackeray will go to Delhi to attend the meeting. On Tuesday, however, Thackeray inaugurated his renovated party office at Nariman Point and declared a march to Adani’s office to raise concerns over the multi-crore Dharavi Redevelopment project. By that time, West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee and other party leaders had said they would not be able to make it for the meeting, and Thackeray’s plan to visit Delhi was cancelled. On Wednesday, Thackeray visited Chaityabhumi in Dadar to pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his Mahaparinirvan Diwas (death anniversary).

Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party

Samajwadi Party (SP) national president stayed home on the day of the results. On Monday, he went to Varanasi for a day-long programme where he inaugurated the first office of a newly-floated political party — the National Equal Party (NEP) — and attended a rally with NEP founder president Shashi Pratap Singh (formerly of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party). On the sidelines of the event, Akhilesh spoke to reporters and said: "The result came, arrogance shattered. The result has ended all ego. I hope there will be a way out in the coming time. Because it is important to save the democracy and constitution for the country."

"I want to say that our fight is long. To counter the strategy by which BJP is winning so many seats, discipline and complete preparation is necessary."

Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement that the opposition parties tried to divide the society during the recent assembly election by demanding the caste census, Akhilesh Yadav said, “The people, who are opposing the caste census don't understand poverty. These people should read the preface of the Mandal Commission (report).” Akhilesh also attended a few weddings in Varanasi between Monday and Wednesday.

(With inputs from Deepika Amirapu)

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