The Opposition INDIA alliance has rescheduled the meeting of party heads to the third week of December after several top leaders expressed their inability to attend Wednesday’s meet.
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 – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
However, at least five top leaders – West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav – had said that they would be unable to attend the meeting.
Following this, 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”.
The Opposition bloc will hold a coordination meeting at Kharge’s house on Wednesday. Representatives of 28 parties are expected to discuss strategy and seat sharing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections at the meeting, reported the Hindustan Times.
Leaders of several INDIA bloc parties have said that the Congress – which has seen itself as the dominant outfit in the alliance – needs to be more accommodating in the lead-up to the national elections.
On Monday, Banerjee said that she was not aware of any meeting of the bloc having been scheduled. “That’s why I have already scheduled a programme in North Bengal...” she 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 three states, Banerjee said that the party won by thin margins “because of a split in [Opposition] votes” and “that there should have been proper seat sharing” to avoid this outcome.
Earlier, a Samajwadi Party spokesperson had said that Akhilesh Yadav has “no plans” to attend the meeting.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Stalin had already conveyed to the Congress leadership that he would not attend the meeting as his government was engaged in coordinating relief efforts after Cyclone Michaung wreaked havoc in the state.