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Updated December 23rd, 2023 at 06:58 IST

As 2024 Lok Sabha elections near, rift in INDI alliance seemingly widens

While Kharge said Congress is hopeful of turning things around, what remains to be seen is how it plans on doing it, riding on the back of dynasty politics.

Reported by: Kriti Dhingra
While Kharge said Congress is hopeful of turning things around, what remains to be seen is how it plans on doing it, riding on the back of dynasty politics.
While Kharge said Congress is hopeful of turning things around, what remains to be seen is how it plans on doing it, riding on the back of dynasty politics. | Image:PTI
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NEW DELHI: As the political turmoil grows within the the INDI alliance, members of the bloc on Friday, 22 December, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital against the suspension of a record number of MPs from both the houses during the Winter session of Parliament, calling on people “to unite to save democracy in the country”. However, in a stark contrast to the image the bloc leaders are trying to paint, voices of dissent have been growing within the alliance, especially after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed Mallikarjun Kharge as the Prime Ministerial face. The fact that the seat-sharing formula within the INDI bloc has not been reached so far clearly suggests that the alliance is seemingly withering in the absence of a definite leadership and plan. 

Concerns over Rahul, Priyanka's active involvement in UP 

In the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh too, the Congress is believed to be grappling with internal discord. Republic has learnt that Rahul Gandhi recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the current leadership in UP, saying the party leaders in the state appeared to be heavily reliant on directives from Delhi. However, the Congress in-charge in UP responded to Gandhi's remarks, saying the party workers seek active involvement from the Gandhi family, but concerns over the extent of  their engagement in the upcoming elections still linger.

With the internal conflict brewing, the Congress seems to be witnessing a critical flashpoint in Uttar Pradesh: a key state that will significantly impact the broader political spectrum in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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Additionally, the recent reports on Nitish Kumar being “miffed” at the declaration of Kharge's name, only add salt to the injury and beg the question: are things really looking great for the INDI alliance? The big question that needs to be asked further is whether or not the INDI bloc can take on the Modi juggernaut in 2024.

From nationwide protests to marathon meetings: INDI hopes to fill gaps

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and leaders of DMK, NCP, SP, NC, TMC, JMM, RJD were among members of the opposition coalition to attend the protest which was organized under the aegis of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) on Friday.

The leaders of parties forming the INDI alliance have come together as democracy is under threat, Kharge reportedly told the gathering. "When [we] all unite, Narendra Modi won't be able to do anything... The more you try to crush us, the more we will rise. We are fighting unitedly to save the country and democracy," Kharge asserted at a time when speculation is rife that the rift within the INDI alliance is growing in the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, said the Opposition members were suspended for demanding answers from Home Minister Amit Shah on the issue of Parliament security breach. "The more hatred the BJP spreads, the more love and brotherhood INDIA parties will spread," news agency PTI quoted Gandhi as saying.

"With the suspension of nearly 150 MPs from the Parliament, the government has shut the voices of 60 percent Indians," Rahul Gandhi further said.

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The Mahagathbandhan in Bihar 

Meanwhile, the bloc leaders in Bihar also staged protests across the state against the suspension of MPs in the winter session of Parliament, which was eventually cut-short by a day.

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The ruling coalition in Bihar –  the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ – comprises six key constituents of the INDI alliance: Congress, RJD, JDU, CPIML Liberation, CPI and CPIM.

Earlier, during a meeting held in Patna, Bihar coalition leaders had resolved to stage demonstrations in all districts of the state as part of the bloc's planned agitation across the country.

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Bihar Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh and RJD national vice president Uday Narayan Chaudhary were among key figures who took out a procession from the Income Tax office roundabout to the district collectorate in the state capital. Supporters carrying their party flags, placards and banners were reportedly seen charging the Modi-led government with "murder" of democracy over the “dictatorial move” of suspending record number of MPs.

Seat-sharing a contentious issue within INDI alliance

On December 21, Congress had said its candidates for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls will be decided "very soon" and asserted that it would take all necessary steps to make the INDI alliance an effective bulwark against the ruling BJP and its allies.  

During the first CWC meeting after the party's debacle in the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan polls, held at its headquarters in New Delhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi was requested to undertake Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 from East to West.

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Amid the visible fractions possibly widening within the INDI alliance, the opposition party also vowed to concentrate on “actionable points”, while stressing that its committee is taking feedback from states for moving forward on seat sharing, which is believed to be a contentious issue within the alliance.

To fill the widening gaps, the party has also reportedly decided to hold party workers' conventions in several states starting January.  

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Kharge says Congress ‘has learnt valuable lessons’. Has it?

Speaking on the matter of seat-sharing among the INDI bloc partners, Senior Congress leader KC Venugopal said the party has already constituted a committee that will steer discussions in this regard. "They (the committee) are in the process of calling the state units and taking their views. After that there will be a conversation with the allies also," Venugopal said at the four-hour-long meeting, which was attended by 76 leaders who partook discussions on recent assembly election results, the upcoming Lok Sabha election and the current political situation in the country, including issues related to Parliament.

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Conceding that the Congress failed spectacularly during the recent assembly elections, Kharge said the party “has learnt valuable lessons, and is committed to not repeat the same mistakes", even as he urged the party workers to focus on the next year's elections.

As the Congress in-charges of MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan explained reasons behind the party's dismal performance, Kharge revealed the party has conducted a preliminary analysis and identified the reasons behind its poor performance in the assembly polls.

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Exuding confidence in his party's work, Kharge further said there are some positive indicators like vote share in these states that give the Congress definite hope for turning things around. What remains to be seen, however, is how the Gandhi family led-party plans on doing it, riding on the back of dynasty politics, with the given wave of saffron sweeping majority of states in the country for two consecutive Lok Sabha elections, paving way for PM Modi to be at the helm of the nation's affairs for about a decade now. 

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Published December 22nd, 2023 at 17:59 IST

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