With the assembly poll results in three states being a disappointment for the Congress, some rumblings have begun among the constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) ahead of their meeting on December 6, with many leaders alleging that the grand old party ignored others, but was unable to win elections on its own.
While some opposition leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Janata Dal-United's K C Tyagi, have asserted that the Congress's poll defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan will have no impact on the alliance, some other leaders from the bloc have pointed out that the grand old party had distanced itself from the coalition partners.
Asked about the Congress's electoral performance, Pawar said, "I do not think it will have any impact on the INDIA bloc. We will be meeting at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's residence in Delhi (on December 6). We will speak to those who are aware of the ground reality. We will be able to comment on it only after the meeting."
Tyagi took a jibe at the Congress and said, "The poll results show the defeat of the Congress and the victory of the BJP. The Congress ignored other INDIA parties, but was unable to win on its own."
Kerala Chief Minister and Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Pinarayi Vijayan said while facing a formidable opponent like the Bharatiya Janata Party in the three Hindi heartland states, it was necessary to ensure a united front.
"Instead of that, the Congress thought it had already won, that it was a big power and no one could defeat it. This very thought led to its downfall," the Left leader said.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said it was 'more of a failure of the Congress than a success story of the BJP'.
He also said the TMC can provide leadership in the battle to defeat the BJP in the country.
A senior leader from a major opposition party, who did not wish to be named, said it appeared that the Congress was waiting for the poll results for greater bargaining powers in the INDIA bloc.
"There have been no meetings of the INDIA bloc in a long time. The Congress did not want to meet. Perhaps they were waiting for the results to have greater bargaining power," he said.
"These results on the contrary are bad for the Congress," he added.
The only meeting so far of the Coordination Committee of the INDIA was held in New Delhi on September 13, where the leaders agreed upon holding joint meetings in different parts of the country, the first being in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
However, the Bhopal meeting was not held after Congress leaders in the state shot down the idea.
As the results pushed the Congress further back, leaving it in power in only three states on its own -- Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana -- an Aam Aadmi Party leader pointed out that it is now the largest opposition party in north India.
'After today's results, Aam Aadmi Party emerges as the largest opposition party in north India with 2 state governments -- Punjab and Delhi,' Jasmine Shah said in a post on X.
Some also pointed out that the Samajwadi Party (SP) not being accommodated in Madhya Pradesh and Kamal Nath's public comments against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav could be one of the reasons that led to the Congress's poor poll performance in the state.
Talks between the SP and Congress on seat sharing for the Madhya Pradesh polls had failed.
"The insulting words used for Akhileshji by Kamal Nathji is the reason behind the Congress's loss. The Congress lost because of those indignified remarks," SP spokesperson Manoj Yadav Kaka said.
Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray leader Sanjay Raut said the outcome of the Madhya Pradesh polls would have been different had the Congress shared some seats with other constituents of the INDIA bloc.
He said the grand old party should revisit its outlook towards allies, recalling that it was Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath who had opposed sharing seats with the SP.
Raut, however, asserted that Sunday's election results would not cause any rift among the INDIA constituents.
Rashtriya Janata Dal national spokesman Manoj Jha asserted that there was a need for the Congress to realise that 'collectivism' was essential to take on the BJP's 'self-centred' politics.
"Leaders like our national president Lalu Prasad and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have acknowledged that among all partners in the INDIA coalition, the Congress has the largest footprint. But, now, the ball is in the Congress' court. It ought to realise that Narendra Modi's conceit cannot be fought with conceit," Jha said.
He was responding to queries from journalists about the perception that the Congress' brusque treatment of allies like Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav may have not gone down well in a state like Madhya Pradesh, which it failed to wrest from BJP.