Updated January 3rd, 2024 at 08:04 IST

What's next after INDI alliance misses December 31 deadline for seat-sharing?

The Congress wants to go solo in multiple states which doesn't look realistic as of now.

Reported by: Sayan Ganguly
Not all is well within the INDI alliance | Image:Republic
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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: In a big blow to INDI alliance, the December 31 deadline for seat-sharing has expired and there is no clarity over any strategy whatsoever. A week back, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had given a deadline to Congress for the end of the year. However, on the day the seat-sharing was to be decided, Banerjee's party member Kunal Ghosh publicly slammed the Bengal unit of Congress, calling the party BJP's 'dalal' in the state.

Meanwhile, the Congress has expressed interest in fielding its candidates from 300 out of 543 seats for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, according to our sources. Sources further revealed that a top-level Congress meet is slated to be held this week in a bid to decide on the seat-sharing formula. The Congress wants to go solo in multiple states which doesn't look realistic as of now. After Congress lost all the three states in the Hindi belt, several Opposition leaders like Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had openly challenged Congress' big brother claim within the alliance.

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Expressing discontent over seat-sharing after the December 3 results, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav questioned Congress' credibility. The SP, which holds a considerable sway among the Yadavs, drew a complete blank in MP. Both Congress and SP went all out against each other ahead of the MP state elections. In fact, both the parties fielded candidates against each other in at least 20 constituencies. This doesn't bode well for the alliance especially in a swing state like Uttar Pradesh ahead of 2024 elections. With Mayawati deciding to go solo and SP-Congress understanding at an all time low, UP's electoral fate seems already sealed.

West Bengal khichdi

INDI bloc leaders in Bengal are busy washing their dirty linen in public. When asked about seat-sharing equation in Bengal, Ghosh told news agency ANI, "Till now, we have no latest information. Our supremo Mamata Banerjee is looking after the process. She will make the final decision, and she will inform at the proper time. You'll see there is a clear difference between the stand between Delhi Congress and Bengal Congress...In Bengal, the state Congress plays the role of 'Dalal' of the BJP..."

This shocking remark came two days after Ghosh had publicly denounced the Left parties in Bengal. Addressing the media, Ghosh said, "TMC ke saath baithne ki aukatbhi Left logo ki nahi hai...". Meanwhile, Chatterjee was keen on only giving out two seats to TMC's ally in Bengal, much to Congress' dismay. 

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Even, Bengal Congress President and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has said, “In Bengal, Congress can fight on its own.” Similar sentiments have been echoed by the Left parties in Bengal. Lashing out at TMC, Chowdhury on Tuesday called the party “corrupt”, adding it was "suffering from the cancer of corruption and factionalism."

Opining on the future of the INDI alliance in Bengal, National Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and former MP Dr Sujan Chakraborty told Republic, "There is no alliance between Left parties and TMC in Bengal. What will happen in the state and where TMC will eventually go will depend on what secret agreement Mamata Banerjee will have with Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

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Shedding light on why TMC is not willing to share seats with allies in Bengal, Bengal BJP spokesperson and former MLA Samik Bhattacharya told Republic, "TMC will not leave any seat for the CPM in Bengal. Congress might get two seats here if there is pressure on TMC from above. People within the Trinamool are leaving the party -- the situation is already bad there. If they give seats to their allies, their position will be further diluted."

Prime Minister conundrum deepens within the INDI alliance

Like seat-sharing, there is a huge question mark when it comes to deciding a Prime Ministerial face from the INDI bloc. After Kharge's name was floated as PM, the knives are already out for the Congress President. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, in a public rally, said that only Rahul Gandhi can take on Modi. On the other hand, many JDU leaders are visibly upset about the fact that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's name was not even considered. According to JDU leaders, Kumar was the main man behind stitching the alliance. Talking to news agency ANI, JDU MP Sunil Kumar Pintu said that there is "a strong desire among Bihar's party workers and residents for Nitish Kumar to assume the prime ministerial role". Meanwhile, the Trinamool in Bengal has already launched a website in Bengal, projecting Banerjee as India's PM face.

INDI bloc in disarray both in Punjab and Maharashtra

In Punjab, the state unit of the Congress has shown reluctance in fighting together with the ruling AAP.  Punjab Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa has already rejected the idea of any alliance with AAP in the state. Expressing his discontent, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring has declared that the party will fight all the 13 seats alone. He further stated that there was no direction from the party high command on any seat-sharing deal in Punjab.

The INDI alliance talks have hit a rock bottom in Maharashtra as well. With Shiv Sena (UBT) wanting to fight in all the seats that it won in 2019, state Congress leaders like Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam have publicly denounced Uddhav faction's claims. The Uddhav faction had won 18 seats in the last elections. This time around, the party wants to field candidates in 23 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats. Uddhav's party has said that the Congress has to start from "zero" in the state as it has "not won any seat."

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Published January 2nd, 2024 at 17:31 IST