UP done; Delhi, Maharashtra in final stages: Finally, oppn’s INDIA bloc gathers momentum

NEW DELHI: After months of dithering and bickering, opposition’s INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc finally seems to be gathering some momentum and moving ahead as the allies have fast-tracked negotiations to reach consensus on the complex issue of seat-sharing.
While Congress and Samajwadi Party have already crossed the seat-sharing hurdle, INDIA partners in Delhi and Maharashtra are also on the verge of achieving a breakthrough.In another positive development for the anti-BJP grouping, reports say, talks between the Congress and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee that had hit a dead end, has resumed once again.
What has made the negotiations tough is the fact that most of the regional parties which have joined hands at the national level with the Congress to form INDIA bloc, are political rivals of the grand old party in their respective states.
INDIA bloc registered its first breakthrough in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh where Samajwadi Party and Congress agreed to 63-17 division of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Congress wanted 20 seats, but eventually settled for 17. According to Congress, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi played a key role in breaking the deadlock between the two parties by talking to Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. The two parties also sealed agreement for Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress agreed to leave one seat for the SP. The coalition faces a tough electoral challenge from the BJP which hopes to gain not just from the grand Ram Mandir inauguration but also CM Yogi Adityanath’s rule in the state.
In Delhi, Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party are close to finalising a deal. In fact, sources say the deal is final onlhy a formal announcement is pending. Reports say AAP will contest on 4 Lok Sabha seats in the national capital, while the Congress will get the rest three. In Gujarat, the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat has become a bone of contention between the two parties. The AAP has already announced its candidate from Bharuch.
News agency PTI, quoting sources, said Rahul Gandhi has put his foot down on the seat considering the party is “emotionally attached” to due it being Ahmad Patel’s home turf. Patel’s son and daughter are seeking a ticket from Bharuch and talks are being held with the AAP leadership to agree to another seat.
In Maharashtra, seat-sharing talks between the INDIA partners, who are also part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), are in the final stages and a final decision will be announced by the month-end. Congress’s Maharashtra in-charge Ramesh Chennithala said there are no differences in the alliance over seat adjustments for the Lok Sabha elections. A meeting of the alliance — which also includes NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi — will be held on February 27 and 28 to seal the deal.
In West Bengal, talks between the Congress and the TMC, which had hit a dead-end, has resumed again according to reports. The two parties, which had parted ways after a bitter war of words, are reportedly back on the negotiating table. Mamata Banerjee had announced that her party will contest alone in West Bengal after Congress refused to accept TMC’s offer of two Lok Sabha seats. The West Bengal chief minister openly targeted the Congress and mocked Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and used “migratory bird” jibe for the Congress leader. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranhan Choudhary is a bitter critic of Mamata and it will be interesting to see how the Congress leadership deals with him as it tries to reach an agreement with the TMC.
With the BJP campaign gathering steam and Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting a target of 400 plus seats for the National Democratic Alliance, the opposition’s INDIA bloc needs to get its act together before it is too late for any real challenge. Already, the opposition coalition has lost two partners with Bihar chief minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Choudhary walking out of the alliance.

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