As BJP Sweeps Hindi Heartland, Congress Calls For INDIA Bloc Meet; Will Other Parties Join?

New Delhi: It was seen as a ‘semifinal’ before the grand finale next summer. And BJP beat Congress 3-1, winning all three states in the Hindi heartland which went to polls in November – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Congress’ lone success came in the southern state of Telangana, where the K Chandrashekhar Rao-headed BRS government faced its first defeat since the creation of the state a decade ago.

Even as Congress tried to digest what many feel were unexpected losses for them in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh, the obvious question was – how will the results affect the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) which hopes to unseat Narendra Modi at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

The grand old party wasted no time in calling for the next INDIA bloc meeting on December 6, with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge reportedly speaking to leaders of alliance partners like DMK and Trinamool Congress (TMC).

The idea is obviously to take stock of the situation, post BJP’s resounding victories in three states.

Going by some of the early responses, the alliance partners are anything but happy with Congress’ performance in the assembly elections.

Trinamool Congress came down heavily on Congress.

“This is not a success of BJP, this is total failure of Congress. The Congress must come out from its ‘zamindari mentality’ and must share and implement the experience of other senior leaders like (West Bengal CM) Mamata Banerjee,” said TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

Janata Dal (United) was also quite scathing in its assessment of Sunday’s results.

“The Congress defeat is not the defeat of the INDIA Alliance. It has been made clear that the Congress cannot compete with BJP… The Congress will have to come out of this syndrome,” said senior party leader KC Tyagi.

JD (U) general secretary Nikhil Mandal took to microblogging site X to slam Congress leadership and said the INDIA bloc should be led by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. He wrote that Congress remained preoccupied with elections in five states and ignored the alliance.

To rub it in, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claimed it was the ‘largest Opposition party’.

“After today’s results, Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the largest opposition party in north India with 2 state governments – Punjab and Delhi,” senior AAP leader Jasmine Shah tweeted.

Senior statesman and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar sought to tone down the anti-Congress narrative, saying that the verdict will not have any impact on the INDIA alliance.

“We will be meeting at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence in Delhi. We will speak to those who know the ground reality and will be able to comment on it only after the meeting,” said Pawar.

Keeping the INDIA flock together will be one of the key challenges of senior leaders like Pawar.

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