Floor leaders of 17 parties met this evening and discussed steps to improve coordination.
The INDIA bloc, while cancelling the mega meeting of its top leaders today, had a dinner meet of its floor leaders at the house of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. The big meeting was postponed to the third week of December after several key leaders, including Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said they were not available today.
Floor leaders of 17 parties met this evening and discussed steps to improve coordination in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. Among those present at the hour-long meet were Congress's Rahul Gandhi, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Pramod Tiwari, K C Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh.
The Opposition leaders present included Mahua Majhi of JMM, Vaiko of MDMK, NK Premchandran of RSP, Binoy Viswam of CPI, Lalan Singh of JDU, Ram Gopal Yadav and ST Hasan of Samajwadi Party, Jayant Chaudhary of RLD, AAP's Raghav Chadha, Vandana Chavan of NCP and Tiruchi Siva of DMK.
Elamaram Kareem of CPM, Faiyaz Ahmad of RJD, Jose K Mani of Kerala Congress (M), Javed Ali Khan of SP, TR Baalu of DMK, Hasnain Masoodi of NC and Mohd Basheer of IUML also attended the meeting.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena did not attend the meet today.
Today's meeting was called by the Congress after its defeat to the BJP in three heartland states -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- in the recently concluded assembly polls. Opposition leaders, however, said it was not a defeat of the INDIA bloc.
The defeat has drawn focus on the Congress refusal to share seats with the Samajwadi Party in Madhya Pradesh. Leaders from Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Janata Dal (United), Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress and Omar Abdullah's National Conference have said the Congress should be more accommodating when it comes to its regional allies.
The alliance arrangement is expected to work on a one-on-one basis, meaning only one Opposition candidate will be fielded against a BJP candidate. This would work only if all parties in the bloc respect the arrangement and be ready to step down when needed.
With the assembly polls out of the way, discussions on seat-sharing are expected to begin now.
Earlier this year, at least 26 parties came together to form the INDIA bloc to take on the BJP in what they call a "do-or-die" election. So far, they have held three rounds of talks in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai.