Polls for the Lok Sabha election will be held in April and May. The election is quickly approaching. But the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or I.N.D.I. Alliance, which was formed as a single cohesive unit of twenty-eight political parties to overthrow the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is already fracturing, with leaders like Punjab Chief Minister Bhgawant Mann and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ruling out coalitions with the Congress in their respective states.
Even though they have made grandiose promises to topple the Bharatiya Janata Party and establish a coalition government that would impose a “secular and democratic” regime across the nation, they haven’t been able to come to an understanding on basic matters like seat sharing, election laws, and convenor of the bloc, to mention a few. The parties tried to come up with an electoral plan through multiple discussions, but nothing concrete came out of it. Moreover, they persist in demeaning each other and placing their own political objectives ahead of the alliance’s overall welfare.
Battle for the face of the prime minister
There have been reports that opposition parties have discussed strategies to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is incredibly popular with the public. Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, was the preferred candidate for the position, but he was turned down by some parties, who reportedly chose Mallikarjun Kharge, the president of the Congress, instead. But as of yet, no formal statement about the choice has been made.
Mamata Banerjee is also a nationalist, and she was frequently mentioned as the PM candidate for the I.N.D.I. Alliance. However, it doesn’t seem like other parties are willing to accept that. The Congress has undoubtedly portrayed Rahul Gandhi as their “leader,” but given the utter failure of numerous prior attempts to “launch” Rahul Gandhi, non-Congress parties have no support for the Congress prince.
Notably, the Janata Dal-United (JDU) supremo rejected the offer to lead the alliance because he was unhappy with the choice. The JDU leader Sanjay Kumar Jha asserted, “The CM (Nitish Kumar) wanted the I.N.D.I. Alliance convenor to be from Congress only.” The parties had wanted him to accept the role of Mallikarjun Kharge as the bloc’s chairperson.
At numerous meetings, JD (U) has been outspoken in its criticism of the Congress party and its initiatives.
Remarkably, Nitish Kumar said, “All right, if all of you are okay with it, then it is fine,” despite the fact that he did not want the opposition alliance to be called I.N.D.I.A. because it contains the letters “NDA.”
There is no election schedule and no method for seat sharing
The conclusion of the seat-sharing arrangements is likely to have a significant impact on the alliance partners’ plans to organise joint programmes leading up to the general election. But the latter has proven to be the biggest obstacle to the coalition’s future objectives. Due to the Congress’s dismal performance in numerous polls and their own political goals, regional parties like the Samajwadi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), and Left parties in Kerala are unwilling to hand the Congress significant seats.
There have been multiple failed I.N.D.I. Alliance meetings aimed at discussing the seat distribution formula. There were rumours in December 2023 that the alliance parties intended to decide on the seat distribution formula by the 31st of December. However, it is clear that there is no agreement in that area given the way the AAP and TMC have recently ignored Congress on seat sharing.
There is a great deal of discord among alliance partners since each regional party wants to provide Congress only a small number of seats, which is unacceptable to the latter. With the number of seats still up in the air and the crisis getting worse by the day, it is challenging for the parties to devise an election strategy to challenge the assured NDA.
enormous rifts inside the coalition
As if getting beyond the current challenges wasn’t challenging enough, the Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the All India Trinamool Congress of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, two important coalition allies, delivered a severe blow to the Congress. Mamata Banerjee, incensed, declared that her party would fight the state on its own. When Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced that the AAP would run alone in the general election, the news was still being processed.
The government of Mamata Banerjee even refused to let Rahul Gandhi’s “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra” pass through Siliguri on January 28. Since an exam was set for the same day, the administration claimed that the decision had already been taken. She has previously accused him of saying, “I made a lot of suggestions, but they were immediately rejected. We have since made the decision to run in Bengal alone for the elections. Despite the fact that I am a member of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc, they did not even attempt to notify me that they would be visiting West Bengal. Therefore, as far as Bengal is concerned, there is no relationship with me.”
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who leads the Indian National Congress’s West Bengal section and is the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, allegedly attacked her repeatedly, which led to the judgement.
“I suggested the name I.N.D.I.A. during the opposition bloc meeting,” she had before complained. However, each time I go to the meeting, I see the left attempting to run things. This isn’t going to happen. I disagree with the people I’ve fought for for 34 years. I have adapted and attended the bloc meetings in spite of these attacks.
Instead, Bhagwant Mann declared, “The Aam Aadmi Party has selected 40 candidates to compete for Punjab’s 13 Lok Sabha seats. Prior to selecting the best candidates, we are conducting a poll. Punjab is going to be the national victor. The AAP will win 13-0. We won’t do that in Punjab (forming an alliance with the Congress). Nothing is between us and the Congress.
It is significant to remember that Punjabi leaders of the Congress and AAP have continuously clashed. After a tough election campaign, the latter actually defeated the grand old party to gain the state.
Nitish Kumar is prepared to leave again
Strong rumours are circulating that Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar and an ally of the I.N.D.I.A. group, may shortly rejoin the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Insiders claim that the BJP-backed chief minister of Bihar’s swearing-in ceremony is “more or less finalised” at a time when the state’s current Janata Dal (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress alliance is about to fall apart. It is said that Sushil Kumar Modi will take the oath of office as deputy chief minister. According to sources, the oath-taking ceremony is scheduled for January 28.
“People continue to elevate their family members in politics these days. I have been influenced by Karpoori Thakur. At a recent rally in Patna, Nitish Kumar made a jab at his coalition partners, saying, “You all know that I have never sought to promote any of my family members.”
In response to the announcement, Rohini Acharya, the daughter of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, wrote three poems. The first said, “Some people call themselves socialist stalwarts, but their ideology shifts with the wind,” while the second implied that expressing resentment wouldn’t be beneficial because none of their own were worthy enough to continue their legacy. The third one jeered, “Often, people cannot see their own shortcomings but continue to throw mud at others with impudence. Their intentions are not right.” They were later removed, though.
Akhilesh Yadav’s opposition to Congress
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and head of the Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, voiced his displeasure with the Congress last year after the latter rejected his party’s plan to run for six seats in Madhya Pradesh through seat-sharing during the assembly election. He charged “betrayal” against the Congress. Even worse, he said he didn’t know that the I.N.D.I. Alliance was only involved in Lok Sabha elections and not in assembly elections. At a public gathering, he even urged people not to vote for Congress, calling it a “chaalu” (devious) party.
He has frequently hinted that, as a result of their repudiation of him during the assembly poll, he will not grant Congress many seats in the general election. He also revealed his hidden discontent recently when he said that he had not received an invitation from Congress to take part in the “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.”
With just a few weeks until the nation’s Lok Sabha elections, the I.N.D.I. Alliance was presented as a coalition formed to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led NDA, which was predicted to win the election. However, the alliance’s biggest accomplishment to date has been agreeing on an acronym for their coalition. The opposition parties banded together to thwart the BJP’s electoral war machine, but it is evident from their petty bickering and flaws that none of the coalition members are ready to mount a united front against the party.
The parties have been at odds for decades, and it is not possible for them to unite and remove the prime minister without their internal conflicts finally coming to the surface. It is becoming more and more clear that they are fighting each other rather than the NDA as the Lok Sabha elections draw near.
Furthermore, the BJP’s stunning victories in the assembly elections held in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan shook the I.N.D.I. Alliance partners’ supposed “unity” and further damaged their trust.