The Congress, under pressure from INDIA bloc allies, has finally made a move to thrash out the contentious issue of seat-sharing. Sources said party leaders are reaching out to allies for seat sharing and adjustments across the country. Senior leader Mukul Wasnik has dialled various Opposition party chiefs. If required, the Congress will go to states to meet Opposition leaders too if required.
Sources indicated that the party hopes to finalise the seat-sharing agreements before the next phase of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which will begin on January 14. The idea is to get on with campaigning as the Manipur-to-Mumbai march begins.
With that mind, the list of candidates, too, is expected to be finalised sooner rather than later.
The Congress decision came at a meeting held this evening at the party headquarters in Delhi. A second meeting was held at the home of party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, where besides Rahul Gandhi, the committee on seat-sharing — headed by Mukul Wasnik — was also present. Former chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel are the members of the seat-sharing committee.
The path to seat sharing, though, is expected to be rocky, with leaders of various Opposition parties signalling their unwillingness to share turf.
“INDIA alliance will be present in entire India and in Bengal the Trinamool Congress will fight. In Bengal it is only the Trinamool Congress that can teach the BJP a lesson. It can show the entire country the path to victory, not any other party,” Mamata Banerjee has said.
The Shiv Sena UBT, too, has telegraphed reluctance.
“This is Maharashtra, and Shiv Sena is the biggest party here. Congress is a national party… We have always said that Shiv Sena has always been fighting on 23 seats in the Lok Sabha elections including Dadra and Nagar Haveli and that will be firm,” senior party leader Sanjay Raut had said.
Maharashtra has 48 seats and some will be claimed by Maha Vikas Aghadi ally — the Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party. While the Congress is part of the alliance, its say is limited given the number of seats it won in the 288-member assembly in the 2019 polls was only 44.
Leaders of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party have also indicated that they would not like to share any of the 21 seats in Delhi and Punjab.
While AAP has kept the Congress hemmed in both states, the party’s showing in the 2019 general elections had not been steller.
Though AAP won four of the 13 seats in Punjab, it ended up losing them to factionalism and party-hopping. In Delhi, AAP lost all 8 seats to the BJP.
In Bihar too, the Opposition bloc participants have a very clear idea about their claims, though there have been no on-record comments on the subject from the ruling Janata Dal United and ally Rashtriya Janata Dal.
The Congress’s poor showing in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections, is expected to further erode its heft.
The seat-sharing situation in Uttar Pradesh, which has the biggest chunk of Lok Sabha seats, 80, is expected to draw much attention.
Deprived of the six seats he sought in Madhya Pradesh by the state leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is not expected to yield ground in his home territory. Akhilesh Yadav has openly expressed his displeasure with the Congress ahead of the election in Madhya Pradesh.
In 2019, the Congress had managed to win only one seat in Uttar Pradesh – Raebareli, which is the stronghold of Sonia Gandhi. The state hold the key to power in Delhi.