With INDIA on break, faultlines surface

New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) With the big polls scheduled for 2024, the question -- where does the INDIA block stand today -- looms large as the bloc bonhomie went for a toss in the five-state polls.

Many of the bloc leaders are miffed and some felt let down, more by the Congress. Some of the leaders openly expressed anguish and swore a tit-for-tat. There was no coordination and alliance seemed withering.

The bloc even failed to hold a joint rally in any of the five states during the campaign period. The INDIA bloc appeared as 28 separate parties and not as one powerhouse.

The Indian Democratic Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which BJP refers to as INDI Alliance, failed to stand united and create the magic it had claimed at the time of its formation in July.

The Assembly election in five states has exposed the weakness of the alliance, and has also made it clear that Congress will not compromise on its big brother role, which it hopes to strengthen after the state polls results.

In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, where the Congress is the lead party to take on BJP, no seat sharing with smaller constituents of the bloc was done. In Telangana, the Left parties and in Madhya Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the AAP, felt badly let down by the Congress. The SP and AAP did not hesitate to express their frustration with the Congress.

SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav even campaigned against the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Addressing a public meeting in the state, Yadav said if the party could "cheat" him, it can cheat the masses.

After his bitter experience in Madhya Pradesh, the SP chief is making preparations for all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. He even said, "Lessons should be learnt in politics, only this helps to move forward." If the lessons mean that, the SP will retaliate appropriately in Uttar Pradesh during the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, then trouble will be more for the Congress.

With the smaller constituents expressing unhappiness and no unity show by the opposition alliance in the Assembly polls, the INDIA bloc seems to have lost much steam.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has blamed the Congress Party for the bloc not being able to put up a show. He said, "The Congress seems to be more interested in Assembly elections in the five states. In the INDIA coalition, we all had agreed to assign the leading role to the Congress but it appears they will call the next meeting only after the polls in five states."

Nitish Kumar made the right observation since the Congress is pinning for a good show in the state polls that can help it establish the lead role in the INDIA block. A good performance will increase its bargaining power in the bloc, so vital for the big 2024 fight.

Although national leaders of the Congress have been refraining from talking about its preferring solo performance in the Assembly polls, its leaders in states have been saying that the INDIA bloc was meant for national politics and not regional elections.

The Congress has put its strategy to test in the five-state Assembly elections -- Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana. Its first and foremost strategy is to strengthen itself in states and then go for the big leap in 2024. The grand old party had a morale boosting victory in Karnataka. It seeks to repeat the Karnataka show in Madhya Pradesh where Kamal Nath has been leading a "shrewd" campaign.

The party is seeking power desperately and is firefighting with populism -- guarantees, caste census, reservation for minorities -- anything and everything that can catch the sentiment and the vote at the end of the day.

A good performance in the state polls is sure to catapult the Congress to an aggressive role in the INDIA bloc. But, how will the rest of the constituents treat the grand old party after it failed to accommodate them in the state polls. That is the question that will bother the bloc and the Congress as well.

A miffed SP in Uttar Pradesh, a non-compromising Mamata in West Bengal, and similar in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Kerala and other states, the challenges before the INDIA bloc have grown after the five state polls.

The bloc's weaknesses have been exposed now and many constituents are also miffed at the unilateral break taken by the Congress from the INDIA bloc activities. In meetings in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai, the bloc parties had reiterated the urgency to devise and adopt a plan to defeat the BJP in the 2024 election. The bloc, however, went on a break, as said by a miffed Nitish Kumar.

Congress is pinning on the state polls results to shape up the future INDIA bloc ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The Assembly polls has exposed the chinks in the bloc. The parties, many of which are regional rivals to the Congress, have their own aspirations for power. They have their own regions of influence which they will never compromise upon. And remember, most of the regional outfits were born out of antagonism to the Congress.

They did put up a show by coming together on the stage three times, but the Assembly elections have proved that differences are too deep.


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