Three Opposition leaders are likely to skip a meeting of the Opposition INDIA bloc on Wednesday.
The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance is a coalition of 28 Opposition parties that plans to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
On Sunday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called for the bloc’s next meeting as the BJP swept Assembly polls in three states. The alliance will meet for the first time since their September 1 meeting in Mumbai.
Amid news reports of the meeting being postponed, Congress member Gurdeep Singh Sappal wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the meeting of “party presidents/heads of the INDIA alliance will be scheduled in third week of December at a date convenient to all”.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that she was not aware of any such meeting having been scheduled. “That’s why I have already scheduled a programme in North Bengal...” the West Bengal chief minister said. “Had I known, would I have kept this programme? I would have surely gone for [the meeting]. But because we have no information…”
Referring to the BJP’s Assembly poll victories in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Banerjee said that the Hindutva party won by thin margins “because of split in [Opposition] votes” and “that there should have been proper seat sharing” to avoid this outcome.
Earlier, Samajwadi Party spokesperson also said that party chief Akhilesh Yadav has “no plans” to attend the meeting.
Bihar Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary has said that Janata Dal (United) chairperson Nitish Kumar would also not attend the meeting, Hindustan Times reported.
According to Choudhary, Kumar’s presence at the meeting “was not required”.
“JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh and water resources minister Sanjay Jha would attend the meeting,” Choudhary was quoted as saying. “There is not much time left and the Congress should take the message from the debacle in three big states. Time demands that all the leaders of INDIA bloc get down to brass-tacks without further delay with a practical approach and complete distribution of seats in all the states.”
‘Trinamool should lead INDIA’
Trinamool Congress General Secretary Kunal Ghosh on Sunday said that his party should lead the Opposition bloc.
Referring to the Congress’ election losses in the three crucial Hindi heartland states, Ghosh said that the results have been “more about the Congress’ failure than the BJP’s success”.
“All other parties have replicated [Trinamool Congress chief] Mamata Banerjee’s schemes to win elections in other states,” Ghosh said in a social media post in Bangla. “These elections will not have an impact on the Lok Sabha polls. The combined force of the INDIA bloc will prevail.”
“Trinamool Congress is the party which needs to be in the leadership [of the INDIA bloc] to defeat the BJP at the national level,” Ghosh added.