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Opposition meet to focus on early seat-sharing, redrawing strategy to take on BJP

New Delhi: The meeting of opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc parties on Tuesday is likely to focus on seat-sharing in key states, with some leaders pushing for an agreement before December 31, and on redrawing the joint strategy to take on the BJP after the recent reverses in assembly polls.

The key challenge before the leaders of various opposition parties who have come together to fight the BJP unitedly in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is also to come up with an alternative common programme as a counter to the ruling dispensation.

Sources said a section of opposition leaders is of the view that the seat-sharing should be done before December 31 so as to help focus on evolving joint campaign strategy and present a common programme to the people.

The immediate challenge before the I.N.D.I.A bloc is also to build a consensus on having a convener, a spokesperson and a common secretariat, as it is a tricky issue due to differences among the constituents.

The recent victory of the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh has also put more pressure on the opposition parties to put up a united face.

The sources said some parties like Samajwadi Party and DMK are likely to finalise their seat-sharing with the Congress. They added that the Samajwadi Party appeared to be willing to give eight seats to the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, but the grand old party wants more.

“The I.N.D.I.A alliance will unitedly accomplish the task of removing BJP from the country,” Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav told reporters on Sunday while expressing confidence that there will not be any difficulty in deciding on seat sharing or the prime ministerial candidate.

However, West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab and Delhi continue to remain sticking points among the alliance partners, as none are ready to give in.

With issues like the caste census apparently not clicking with voters during the state polls, leaders in the I.N.D.I.A bloc could go back to the drawing board to chalk out a new strategy.

The opposition parties including the Congress had gone all out to highlight the caste census issue in these assembly polls, considered semi-finals ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Also plans for joint rallies by the opposition would have to be finalised soon as the last one scheduled to be held in Bhopal in October before the assembly polls had to be cancelled, the sources said.

The position of the Congress which suffered a near wipeout in the Hindi heartland has also weakened within the alliance. Equations within the I.N.D.I.A bloc are set to change, as other opposition parties would challenge its position as the fulcrum of the alliance.

Undeterred by the recent defeats, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has said that they will move forward to take on the BJP with a positive agenda and will highlight people’s issues.

With only a few months left for the 2024 elections and the assembly polls proving a dampener, there is little time for the opposition bloc to rediscover its election narrative to take on a resurgent BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is the fourth meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A). It held its first meeting in Patna on June 23. Its second meeting was held in Bengaluru on July 17-18 and the third in Mumbai between August 31 and September 1, where the 27 parties had adopted resolutions to unitedly contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

(Published 17 December 2023, 15:58 IST)

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