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Is non-attendance at INDIA bloc meeting a response to Congress’ ‘lone wolf’ strategy?

When it started to become clear that the three Hindi heartland states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – had slipped off the Congress’ hands, the grand-old party scrambled to get the leaders of the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive alliance) bloc together and chalk out strategies for the Lok Sabha polls. Three prominent leaders within the INDIA bloc declined the invitation, citing prior commitments, and openly expressed their disagreement with the Congress party’s “lone wolf” approach in the recent three Assembly elections. Congress is accused of unilateralism despite being a part of the bloc specifically floated to counter the BJP in the elections.

Top leaders including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav decided to give it a miss. “There is a wedding in Mamata Banerjee’s house, MK Stalin is busy with the relief operation in his flood-hit state, Nitish Kumar is not well, and Akhilesh Yadav is not available,” Sanjay Raut said.

Nitish Kumar said he was unwell and expressed his inability to attend the INDIA bloc meeting. But, not before he chided the Congress for putting the “Opposition unity” on the back burner after the grand-old party’s three-state debacle. He had earlier alleged that Congress was too caught up in the Assembly polls which had cooled down the momentum the Opposition parties had generated.

Also Read | BJP Parliamentary meeting begins amid suspense over CMs

Another INDIA ally who has accused Congress of unilateralism is Akhilesh Yadav. And quite vocally. The divide was apparent when Congress and the Samajwadi Party engaged in a seat-sharing spat resulting in a public outburst. The dispute jeopardised the presence of one key constituent off the INDIA shelf.

But like they say, all’s well that ends well. Despite the massive debacle, Akhilesh Yadav has softened his stance on the Congress and the Opposition unity. Nitish Kumar has acknowledged that Congress has the largest footprint among the Opposition alliance and Akhilesh Yadav thinks recent elections will further strengthen the INDIA alliance.

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Published: 07 Dec 2023, 11:19 AM IST

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