Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge has been selected as the chairperson of the opposition bloc, Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), according to insider sources. An official announcement from the INDIA bloc is yet to be made.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was also in contention for the top post. However, during a recent meeting, he suggested that a representative from Congress should assume the role. When the idea of appointing Mr. Kumar as the convenor of the alliance was proposed, the newly elected chief of the Janata Dal (United) expressed no desire for the position.
The convenor is a separate post within the alliance, ranking just below the chairperson. Mr. Kharge has reportedly stated that he will discuss the issue with Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.
The INDIA bloc is a coalition of opposition parties, including Congress. These parties have united to challenge the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in an effort to prevent it from securing a third consecutive term at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Representatives from all parties, except for the Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party, attended the recent meeting. Several leaders emphasized the importance of maintaining unity at the national level and preventing state-level disputes from disrupting the alliance.
However, the selection of a chairperson is just one of many challenges facing the INDIA bloc. The issue of seat-sharing among the parties remains a significant hurdle. In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is unlikely to be accommodating, given the state Congress’s refusal to share any seats in the assembly elections. This refusal by state party chief Kamal Nath to honor the central leadership’s commitment for six seats in the state has caused public ripples.
Discussions between Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are also proving contentious. While Congress is seeking four seats in Delhi and seven in Punjab, AAP is unwilling to comply. In both Delhi and Punjab, the ruling party is demanding a larger share of seats. AAP also intends to contest in Goa, Haryana, and Gujarat, according to sources.