"Will Contest Together As Far As Possible": INDIA Bloc Amid Differences

The opposition's INDIA alliance will contest the 2024 Lok Sabha election "together as far as possible", the bloc said Friday, the final day of its meeting in Mumbai, in a resolution that raises questions about how viable electoral unity may be.


The opposition's INDIA alliance will contest the 2024 Lok Sabha election "together as far as possible", the bloc said Friday, the final day of its meeting in Mumbai. The wording of the INDIA alliance's resolution, however, has raised eyebrows and spawned questions, specifically of the kind the grouping was meant to answer - just how united is the opposition as it bids to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming an unprecedented third term. The parties resolved to "coordinate respective communications and media strategies and campaigns with the theme "Judega Bharat, Jiteega India" in different languages.

The resolution after INDIA's third meeting (the first two were in Patna and Bengaluru) also refers to seat-sharing arrangements, noting these will be "initiated immediately and concluded... in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take".

The mega opposition meet - hailed by its members as the definitive weapon with which to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party - concluded with the release of resolutions, and some drama after ex-Congress leader Kapil Sibal made a surprise entry.

Mamata Banerjee And Caste Census Resolution

Another moment of apparent discord was struck by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who opposed the political resolution because it included calls for a caste-based census. Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal, as well as Samajwadi Party from Uttar Pradesh, backed the inclusion of caste census in the resolution.

READ | Caste Census Divides INDIA Bloc, Political Resolution Dropped

There was also talk of a logo for the INDIA alliance but that hasn't yet been revealed, and neither has there been clarity on a joint schedule ahead of the 2024 election, which is now less than a year away.

"Coordination Committee" Announced

In more positive news though, the alliance announced a 14-member cross-party "coordination committee" to work out issues and challenges like a possible Common Minimum Programme and the thorny problem of seat-sharing across the country.

Sources told NDTV four other committees are being planned, apart from the "coordination committee", to help plan campaigns and rallies, handle social media and manage data.

Sources also spoke of "action on the ground" on October 2 - Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary - in Delhi.

The "coordination committee" will be INDIA's highest decision-making body, and will include representatives from Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Shiv Sena UBT, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, and the Janata Dal (United). Also on the committee are National Conference, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist), and People's Democratic Party.

After three INDIA meetings, what is perhaps commendable is that the opposition - in this case the BJP - hasn't been able to break the bloc, so far. Also commendable is the united front in dealing with the press, including tricky areas like seat-sharing.

READ | Government Calls Parliament "Special Session", Agenda Not Declared

The meeting has been talked up over the past days, with JD(U) boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - seen as the driving force behind this effort at unity - calling on his colleagues to fight the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's "surprise element strategy and gimmicks".

INDIA's third meeting takes place after the centre's surprise call for a special session of Parliament between September 18 and 22. The agenda for this session is not yet known but there is speculation it could focus on the BJP's controversial "one nation, one election" call.