Announcing the meeting on social media, Congress’ communications chief Jairam Ramesh said, “The 4th meeting of the leaders of INDIA parties will be held on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 in New Delhi at 3 pm.”
The meeting, the first after assembly polls in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh delivered a crushing defeat to Congress, is expected to focus on evolving a “core positive agenda”, engaging in talks over seat sharing, and holding joint programmes for the partners.
Sources said leaders of 26 parties are likely to attend the strategy meet, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee who is scheduled to be in Delhi from December 17 to 19, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin.
How Congress defeat in Hindi heartland gives wings to other parties in India bloc
Sources said the leaders will seek to move forward on the theme of unity, ‘Main Nahin, Hum (Us, Not I)’, which some partners see as a counter not only to BJP’s PM Narendra Modi-focused campaign, but also to Congress’ ‘unilateral’ approach to ‘leading’ the INDIA bloc.
Apart from identifying an alternative positive agenda to counter BJP in the 2024 polls, sources said the meeting may also begin work on evolving a common programme for the partners, which may include, among other things, legal guarantee to MSP and social security for workers.
Though INDIA partners had pitted the salience of conducting a caste census as a challenge to BJP’s ‘politics of polarisation’, its failure to fly in the recent polls may also send leaders back to the drawing board on setting the narrative against the ruling dispensation. Senior Congress functionaries, however, defended the significance of issues such as implementation of the old pension scheme and caste census, even as they acknowledged some “out-of-the-box thinking” will be needed to challenge BJP in the impending Lok Sabha polls.
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