Setting Realistic Goals
With the Lok Sabha elections just few months away, political parties have started gearing up for the crucial battle. For the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), the battle has already begun with seat-sharing negotiations among the allies getting off to a rocky start. As the member parties bargain for more, it appears like the Indian National Congress will have to compromise more seats than its partners. For instance, it is reported that the grand old party is likely to get only five seats in Bihar and two in West Bengal. The situation may not be very different in other states including Kerala and Punjab as the incumbent ruling parties will want to get the lion’s share. However, Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge had recently revealed that the party could contest in only 255 seats in the upcoming Indian general elections, against the average 478 seats it had contested since Independence, which is a huge drop. This sends out a clear message that it wants to play safe this time, avoid squabbling and not be overambitious. The move could be seen as a result of the party’s disappointing success rate in the last two Lok Sabha elections, contrary to the performance of its arch-rival BJP, which has been making strides since the 2014 polls. Regardless of the reason for the decision, the accommodative spirit shown by the largest ally will have a positive bearing on the INDIA bloc, which many doubted would stick together for too long.
But this is just the beginning of the long journey, as seat-sharing, the first major test for the alliance since its formation, has a long way to go. The task of keeping the flock together and working as one unit, before and after the elections, won’t be easy as the bloc is a conglomeration of 28 political parties. If the seat-sharing task is successful, it will become a formidable competitor to the opponents in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. If not, the prospect of fulfilling its common objective of defeating the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, will take a nosedive, and the alliance itself could collapse. So, all eyes will now be on the partners of the new alliance as they begin bargaining for more seats to contest in the crucial polls. To pull off the seat-sharing challenge, the allies should be willing to make concessions by analysing their strengths and weaknesses. Detachment from reality will prove costly, be it the INDIA bloc or the BJP-led NDA.