INDIA bloc’s first rally in Bhopal in Oct; seat-sharing talks to start soon
First meeting of coordination committee held at official residence of NCP’s Sharad Pawar with prime objective to prepare a roadmap for the Lok Sabha 2024 polls
Treading cautiously to avoid any confrontation among the partners, Opposition parties’ INDIA alliance didn’t hold any discussion on seat sharing in the first meeting of its coordination committee, which was formed during the third meeting of the INDIA bloc in Mumbai.
However, the Opposition INDIA bloc has decided to hold their first joint public meeting in Bhopal in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh in the first week of October and the partners of the alliance will start seat-sharing talks at the earliest.
The Opposition alliance also said it will raise issues related to rising prices, unemployment, corruption and caste census.
The first meeting of the coordination committee was held at the official residence of NCP’s Sharad Pawar and the prime objective of the meeting was to prepare a roadmap for the Lok Sabha 2024 polls for which all the like-minded Opposition parties have joined hands to take on the Modi government in the upcoming general elections.
According to sources, the seat sharing issue of the states like Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu has been sorted out as in all the three states, the partnership is already in existence. In Maharashtra, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress are partners, while in Bihar, JDU, RJD, Congress and Left are allies and in Tamil Nadu, the DMK and Congress are partners.
The major challenge for the Opposition bloc is to decide the seat-sharing formula in the states of West Bengal, Delhi and Punjab. In TMC-ruled West Bengal, TMC, Congress and Left are key stakeholders, while in Delhi and Punjab the seat sharing negotiations have become a challenging task.
However, the party insiders stated that leaders would have to finalise a doable seat sharing formula by “shedding their egos and vested interests.”
It is to note that several Opposition parties have sought an early seat-sharing formula so that a joint Opposition candidate can be fielded against BJP candidates in upcoming Lok Sabha seats that may help in winning a significant number of seats to form the government at the Centre.
However, prior to the start of the high stake meeting, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that it is natural to understand that seat-sharing cannot be discussed in a meeting of coordination members and it has to be amongst the party chiefs and top leaders.
The coordination committee decided to hold their first joint public meeting in Bhopal in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh in the first week of October where issues related to rising prices, unemployment, corruption and caste census will be raised by the top brass of the coalition.
The coordination committee has also authorised the sub-group of media to decide upon the names of the television anchors on whose shows none of the INDIA parties will send their representatives.
As per the sources, the main reason behind not ‘touching’ the sensitive seat sharing issue was that of the key constituent of INDIA alliance TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was on an official visit to Europe. Besides her, TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, who is a member of the India bloc coordination committee, was not present in the meeting as he was on a summon call by the Enforcement Directorate. Another member who skipped the meeting was JDU’s Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh.
Of the 14-member panel, 12 leaders participated in the meeting that took place amid the ongoing controversy over DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remark on the Sanatan Dharma.
The leaders present at the meeting include NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress’ KC Venugopal, Jharkhand Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren, CPI’s D Raja, SP’s Jawed Ali Khan, DMK’s TR Baalu, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, AAP MP Raghav Chadha, JD(U)’s Sanjay Jha, NC leader Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut.
“The coordination committee decided to start the process of determining the seat-sharing. It was decided that the member parties will hold the talks and decide (seat-sharing) at the earliest,” said Congress general secretary KC Venugopal.
Venugopal, who is a member of the panel, also informed that Abhishek Banerjee of the TMC could not attend the meeting due to the summons issued by the ED.
Venugopal further said that the committee also decided to hold joint public meetings in different parts of the country. “The first public meeting will be held at Bhopal in the first week of October on the issue of rising prices, unemployment and corruption of the BJP government. The parties present in the meeting agreed to take up the issue of the caste census,” Venugopal said.