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Congress wants decision of its committee on alliance in Assam binding on others

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INDI Alliance partners object, TMC and AAP demanding more seats

By Ashis Biswas

As in neighbouring West Bengal, efforts to ensure a one-on-one contest by the INDI Alliance constituents against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are not going well in Assam , the biggest state in the Northeast with 14 seats.

At the level, parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) had been pressing for an immediate agreement over the major issue of seat adjustments. As leader of the biggest opposition party and the obvious political centre of the new I.N.D.I Alliance, Congress l is not responding.

Their broad argument was : (a) with so many parties in the broad opposition alliance and the obvious policy differences between a national party like Congress and various regional parties , any seat adjustment exercise was bound to be protracted — perhaps even ill-tempered. It was by far the stickiest part of the larger ambitious objective to bring the entire anti-BJP opposition together under one umbrella.

Further, most regional parties, even while placing initial demands for seats informally, had made it clear that all over , they expected Congress as the biggest party to accommodate their interests, setting a noble example of political leadership! Simultaneously, they described the Congress as a party well in decline and in dire need of help from the regional parties, if defeating the BJP nationally was first priority.

As the biggest opposition party with the highest percentage of votes won nationally, still around 20% in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress leaders insisted that no regional party even came close to commanding either its vote share or the number of seats bagged. Mr. Rahul Gandhi's impressive Bharat Jodo Yatra had rallied considerable popular support, they claimed. No wonder they prevailed upon smaller INDI Alliance parties to wait for seat adjustment talks until the outcome of the ongoing Assembly elections to five states was known. The non-Congress INDI Alliance partners had to wait reluctantly for December 3 results.

As for Assam, both the TMC and the AAP have informally staked a claim for fighting at least 5 seats each! This , without any discussion with or reference to similar demands to be made for seats from established parties like the CPI(M), the CPI, Raisor Dal, Asom Jatiya Parishad and other local parties in the fray.

This despite the fact that both the TMC and the AAP are in terms of political record, rank newcomers to the state as well as the NE region! Since the number of seats up for grabs was only 14, such a trend of informal talks provides a clear indication of how difficult the seat adjustment talks could prove to be in Assam.

As for West Bengal, the situation was worse. With 42 seats in contention, major INDI Alliance allies like the CPI(M)-led Left or Congress are not even willing to talk at all to the ruling TMC. As the CPI(M) and Congress state leaders say openly, they would not necessarily agree with their central leadership when it came to actually sharing seats with the TMC given the latter's blatant excesses, corruption and misuse of official machinery to eliminate all opposition in Bengal !

Significantly, neither central CPI(M) leaders nor the Congress high command have given any indication that they will firmly instruct state party leaders to soften their anti-TMC stand. However, there are indications that senior Delhi-based Congress leaders are trying very hard to work out some adjustment with the TMC, if the latter allows the grand old party to contest at least 5/6 seats.

In this delicate situation, Assam Congress leaders Mr Bhupen Bora and Mr Debabrata Saikia have announced that their party high command had set up a five member committee to examine and finalise seat adjustment proposals for Assam. This Committee or the party President, senior Congress leader Mr Mallikarjun Kharge MP, would announce the party's final position on seat adjustment and other issues, after talks with other parties.

According to latest media reports from Assam, Mr Bora, President of Assam Congress and Mr Saikia, leader of the opposition in the state Assembly, made it clear that the final decision announced by Congress leaders on seat adjustments would be binding within the INDI Alliance group.

Not unexpectedly, this was contested strongly and immediately by both the AAP and the TMC. The AAP has been inclined to assert what it sees as the pole position within the new alliance especially after winning in , the second state under its belt after Delhi Union territory. After Congress, it sees itself as the first among equals in the anti-BJP grouping. Its leaders have begun sniping at the TMC too in some cases, referring to the latter's failure to make a mark either in Tripura, Goa or in Assam.

State-based TMC and AAP leaders have told the Assam-based media that there was no reason why or how a decision about seat sharing in the state announced by the central Congress leadership could be considered ‘binding' on its non Congress allies in the battle against the BJP !

Clearly, opposition leaders in East and Northeast India have their work cut out to achieve a significant anti-BJ P political consolidation, given their different political compulsions.

(IPA Service)

 

 

 

 

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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