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INDIA bloc: An alliance in disarray

Opposition front has many PM faces with no big idea


Alliance leaders should understand, time is running out for mounting an effective 2024 campaign

Ravindra Ojha 

India steps into election year 2024 with hue and cry of various political discourse. Seeing the lethargic pace of poll preparedness and disability over reaching consensus about, who will lead the opposition’s bandwagon in challenging the Modi magic. People are of the opinion that the opposition alliance as well as Congress will keep searching for an existential narrative, which can coherently persuade the voters to switch sides. This is not just about coining anything better, punchier slogan. It requires a newer bigger overhaul of status quoism in opposition rank and file. But 2024 will not be the year when the opposition’s INDIA bloc will pull this off.

The Opposition parties, INDIA, seems to be in tatters, with major stakeholders’ top leaders, including Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury, Omar Abdullah, and Akhilesh Yadav, all voicing concerns about “problems in the alliance”.

While the largest Opposition party, the Congress, seems to be taking it slow and preparing to assert itself if it performs well in the Assembly polls in five States this month, two other major parties, the AAP and the TMC, have found themselves in trouble.

Arvind Kejriwal and his close confidants are under scrutiny by investigative agencies in connection with an excise scam, while Mamata Banerjee’s party is mired in allegations against her Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra, who is accused of asking questions in exchange for money in Parliament.

Kejriwal will undergo ED questioning and TMC is busy in it’s own contradictory note. Both the AAP and the TMC have characterised these actions as political vendettas, with Mamata attacking Modi government.

Mamata accused the BJP of conspiring to arrest all Opposition leaders before next year’s Lok Sabha polls and manipulate votes in their favour in what she described as an “empty country”.

Sources from a couple of alliance partners have mentioned that with no upcoming meeting of the INDIA alliance scheduled there is a sense that it would have been beneficial to establish a common understanding among the bloc partners for the upcoming State elections.

However, the public airing of differences between the Congress and Samajwadi Party, along with the recent Moitra episode, followed by Kejriwal’s summons to the ED, have shaken the confidence that had been building since the first meeting in Patna, followed by Bengaluru, and the last one in August in Mumbai.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar last Saturday said while members of the INDIA alliance might have differences at the State level, there is also a feeling that all must fight the Lok Sabha polls together.

The next meeting was to be over discussing the rationalisation of seats for the general elections.

“It is not so easy in State polls the way it is in the Lok Sabha elections. Among our colleagues, there is definitely a feeling we have to come together for the LS polls. There is difficulty in some State elections. But for the LS, there is a feeling we should work together,” Pawar said, pointing out there were States where the Congress as well as regional parties were equally important and differences in such cases should be resolved by dialogue.

In the case of West Bengal, where TMC was considered strong, neither the Left nor the Congress could be “bypassed,” according to Pawar.

Similarly CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the opinion of the majority in the grouping has been that the alliance is for the Lok Sabha polls but fighting State polls together would have been good for the alliance.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the situation within the Opposition alliance is not good.

The remarks by Pawar and other leaders come against the backdrop of the Congress and other INDIA bloc parties contesting against each other in the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.

Akhilesh had recently expressed his unhappiness with the Congress on the seat-sharing issue and the Congress leaders also engaged in verbal duel.

In response to a question about Abdullah’s comments regarding internal strife within the INDIA bloc as five State Assemblies polls results ditched Congress. Yechury stated that the prevailing opinion within the INDIA bloc is that the alliance is primarily aimed at the 2024 Parliamentary elections and ensuring that the BJP does not gain control over state power.

“We wish it could have happened in the States (polls) as well. There should have been greater coordination, cooperation in the Assembly polls, it would have been helpful in 2024,” Yechury said.

“All is not well with the INDIA alliance. Squabbles, which should not have been there, can be seen over seat sharing.

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