INDIA bloc meeting: Cong to hold another round of parleys for top oppn leaders in late December

PTI, Dec 5, 2023, 6:01 PM IST

Ameeting of the top leaders of the INDIA opposition bloc has been deferred to the third week of December after some of them expressed their inability to attend it due to their preoccupations.

Another meeting convened by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge at his residence here on Wednesday with the floor leaders of the INDIA constituents in Parliament will, however, go ahead according to its schedule to formulate the opposition strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The decision was taken as some leaders of the bloc, including Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, said they will not be able to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Gurdeep Sappal, Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and coordinator of the Congress president’s office, said on X: ”A coordination meeting of parliamentary party leaders of INDIA alliance will be held at 6 pm on December 6 at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.” ”Thereafter meeting of party presidents/heads of the INDIA alliance will be scheduled in third week of December at a date convenient to all,” Sappal, who is also a member of the Campaign Committee of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), said.

Sources said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is unwell while his Tamil Nadu counterpart, M K Stalin, is unable to attend Wednesday’s meet due to a cyclone that has hit the southern state. Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, is busy with a family wedding, the sources said.

They said the three leaders had requested the Congress chief to postpone the meeting.

”But the INDIA bloc meeting is on. It will be attended by the floor leaders of the parties at 6 pm on Wednesday at the 10, Rajaji Marg residence of the Congress president,” a source said.

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said the meeting has not been postponed as some chief ministers were unable to attend it. She said the meeting will take place on December 6 and coordination and seat sharing will be discussed among the leaders. Subsequently, the top leadership of various opposition parties will endorse the same during their meeting later in December, Chaturvedi added.

Rubbishing speculation that the recent Assembly poll results have created fissures within the INDIA bloc, Congress leader Naseer Hussain said the election outcome would have no bearing on the opposition unity and its alliance is intact.

SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said Akhilesh Yadav has no plans to attend the meeting on Wednesday.

Asked if the decision was taken after the declaration of Assembly poll results in five states, he said there was no information about the meeting earlier.

”The SP president has no plans to attend the meeting of the INDIA bloc on Wednesday. Ram Gopal Yadav or any other leader authorised by the national president will go for the meeting,” Chaudhary told PTI.

In Delhi, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said his party will attend the meeting, although Akhilesh Yadav may not be present.

He said the SP chief is busy with programmes in the Purvanchal region. ”It does not matter if a leader does not participate. All parties will be there at the meeting,” Ram Gopal Yadav said.

”Leaders are busy. They have prior commitments … the meeting was announced suddenly. Akhilesh will not attend it as he has some programmes in Purvanchal, I will attend (the meeting),” he added.

Talking to reporters, Akhilesh Yadav said the recent Assembly poll results will make the INDIA bloc even stronger in the coming days.

”The people of India want to remove the BJP and the results show that they want a change. The results could have been different had there been a different alliance. The BJP must be concerned about this trend as people were angry with those in power and voted for change. In the coming days too, this will be a matter of concern for the BJP as people will vote for change,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting convened by the Congress comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in the elections in three Hindi heartland states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — while the Congress won the poll battle in Telangana.

There have been rumblings within the INDIA bloc after the Congress’s electoral loss in the three Hindi heartland states, with the SP, which was miffed after being ignored in seat sharing, expressing its displeasure openly.

Leaders of parties, such as the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Janata Dal (United) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have said the Congress should be more accommodating when it comes to its regional allies.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the Congress thought it was competent to win elections against the BJP on its own and did not join forces with the other INDIA constituents ”due to its greed”.

”Had they joined hands with the other parties, this would not have been the result. They were greedy for power. They wanted it all for themselves. That is what has led to this situation in those states,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader has said.

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