After intense negotiations, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party have reached a significant agreement on seat-sharing for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections in crucial states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has secured 17 seats, while in Madhya Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party will contest the Khajuraho seat while extending support to the Congress for the remaining 28 seats in the state.

The seat-sharing extends beyond these states, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress formalizing their arrangement in Delhi. Under this agreement, the AAP will contest four of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, with the Congress fielding candidates for the remaining three seats.

Further cementing their collaboration, the parties have also settled seat-sharing arrangements in Gujarat, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Goa. The AAP will contest two seats in Gujarat, one in Haryana, while the Congress will contest alone in Chandigarh and Goa.

The consolidation of the INDIA alliance has prompted speculation among political observers, with some suggesting a potential resurgence for the coalition. Uttar Pradesh, boasting the highest number of Lok Sabha seats (80), emerges as a critical battleground. Observers note a shifting sentiment among minority voters, particularly Muslims, indicating a potential shift towards the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance.

Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) encountered significant setbacks in recent weeks. One major blow to the BJP came in the form of extensive youth protests across Uttar Pradesh, provoked by allegations of question paper leaks and other irregularities in the state police constable recruitment examination. Yielding to pressure, the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government declared on 24 February that the exam would remain canceled.

Adding to the BJP’s woes, the Supreme Court recently struck down the controversial electoral bond scheme, a key financing tool for political parties. Further tarnishing the BJP’s image, allegations of vote tampering surfaced during the Chandigarh Mayor election where a BJP official was caught manipulating the vote count, prompting Chief Justice of India to denounce the incident as a “murder of democracy” and declared the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as the winner. The ongoing protests by the farmers have also negatively impacted the BJP.

In Bihar, reports suggest that Nitish Kumar’s return to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) may not significantly strengthen the ruling alliance’s prospects. Meanwhile, the opposition Mahagathbandhan alliance is set to make a joint public appearance on 3 March.

Leaders including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, and Rahul Gandhi are reportedly slated to address the rally, highlighting growing opposition unity against the BJP.

However, the INDIA alliance faces a multitude of challenges. Political analyst Rahul Sharma is of the opinion that “Unless Congress wins heavily in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and UP, the seat-sharing is just breathing in life to the INDIA alliance.”

Experts note that the Congress’s influence in Uttar Pradesh has waned significantly, lacking strong support from any particular caste group or region whereas, the BJP won over 50% votes in UP in 2019 and has now strategically aligned with regional, caste-based parties, posing a formidable challenge to the INDIA alliance.

Also, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) already declaring 31 candidates and the BJP poised to announce candidates for “weak seats,” the Congress faces mounting pressure to finalize its candidate list. Failure to field candidates, particularly from strongholds like Rae Bareli and Amethi, which have had a strong historical presence for the Congress party, could deal a severe blow to the party’s morale and weaken its position in crucial battlegrounds.

Despite ongoing negotiations, the INDIA alliance has yet to finalize seat-sharing arrangements with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC). The coalition is also yet to prioritize setting a cohesive agenda and holding the Modi government accountable on critical issues such as unemployment, farmers’ income, and dilution of reservation policies. These issues resonate deeply with voters and could significantly sway electoral outcomes.

Furthermore, the alliance’s outreach efforts in Jammu and Kashmir, other Union Territories, Himachal Pradesh, and the North-East remain pending. However, the Congress leaders of Nagaland including President Supongmeren Jamir has met with General Secretary of INC KC Venugopal today where they reportedly discussed pertinent issues concerning the party’s strategy and activities in Nagaland.

congress INDIA
Nagaland Congress president Supongmeren Jamir (2nd from left) and others with INC General Seretary Venugopal (3rd from left) on 25 February. (Photo: Nagaland Congress on X @INCNagaland)

The screening committee meeting for INC Manipur and INC Tripura are also currently underway to screen the potential candidates for strife -torn Manipur and BJP-ruled Tripura respectively.

Mokokchung Times

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