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INDIA Bloc Hits Familiar Roadblocks

By Archis Mohan
September 28, 2023 09:29 IST
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Some constituents of the alliance have raised concern that the panels, particularly the 14-member coordination committee, are at risk of becoming ineffective, as their decisions have so far not been acted upon.

IMAGE: 63 Opposition leaders from 28 different parties pose for a group photograph during INDIA's third meeting in Mumbai, September 1, 2023. Photograph: @kharge/X

The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc, comprising 26 Opposition parties, could soon review the many panels it had announced nearly a month ago.

Some constituents of the alliance have raised concern that these panels, particularly the 14-member coordination committee that serves as the top decision-making body, are at risk of becoming ineffective, as their decisions have so far not been acted upon.

They have called for a new modus vivendi or arrangement to address this issue.

A senior leader from the INDIA bloc told Business Standard that it had become "increasingly clear that decisions were unlikely to be made or honoured, unless top leaders of respective parties were present."

According to sources, a leader of a Kashmir-based party questioned the relevance of attending the committee meetings when decisions could be vetoed by leaders who were absent from the forum.

The INDIA bloc had announced the formation of the coordination committee along with other panels, which include those responsible for media, social media, and research, during its meeting in Mumbai on September 1. The coordination committee convened its first meeting on September 13.

So far, the committee has made two decisions, neither of which has been implemented. First, it agreed to organise a public meeting of INDIA leaders in Bhopal, the capital of election-bound Madhya Pradesh, in early October.

However, Kamal Nath, the Congress's chief ministerial candidate in the state, opposed the idea. He argued that the timing was politically and logistically inconvenient, as it would divert attention from the anti-incumbency against Shivraj Singh Chouhan and would require significant resources from the already stretched Congress party.

Second, the committee proposed making the demand for a caste census one of its main electoral issues. This proposal, however, was not supported by the All India Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee.

During its meeting on September 13, the coordination committee also endorsed the decision of INDIA's media committee to boycott 14 television news anchors. This decision also lacked unanimous support.

Not only Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar, but also certain members of the Congress were not in agreement. Trinamool General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee could not attend due to a summons from the Enforcement Directorate while the Communist Party of India-Marxist has yet to nominate its representative.

On September 25, during a public meeting of the Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana, JD-U's K C Tyagi remarked that 'Big tasks could not be accomplished with a small heart' and emphasised the need for unity to defeat the BJP. TMC's Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien also highlighted the need to set aside egos.

There is growing dissatisfaction among the INDIA bloc constituents towards the Congress, which they allege is using the various INDIA committees as a platform to promote its second-rung leaders, thereby sidelining equally or more experienced leaders from other parties.

Suggestions have been made to organise mass outreach programmes to revitalise the alliance, including public meetings in cities such as Patna, Nagpur, Chennai, Guwahati, and Delhi.

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Archis Mohan in New Delhi
Source: source