Congress' Milind Deora hails INDIA alliance, says 'best example' of it's in Maharashtra

Deora, who is closely involved in the organising of the meeting, hailed INDIA partners and said the best example of that was in Maharashtra

INDIA alliance (Photo: IANS)
INDIA alliance (Photo: IANS)


Ahead of the crucial meeting of the INDIA bloc in Mumbai, Congress leader Milind Deora on Sunday said seat sharing for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls among alliance partners is more or less finalised in many states with only a few states requiring more time.

Deora, who is closely involved in the organising of the meeting, hailed the "evolving chemistry" between Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) partners and said the best example of that was in Maharashtra.

In an interview with PTI ahead of the INDIA bloc meeting on August 31-September 1, the Congress leader from Maharashtra also asserted that there are "no problems" within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction).

His remarks come close on the heels of a "split" in the NCP with Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP MLAs joining the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state on July 2. Subsequently, the meetings between NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar have been the subject of some consternation among INDIA bloc partners.

Deora dismissed concerns over the developments in the NCP, saying seat sharing among MVA partners will be discussed and finalised at a later stage and what was happening within the NCP is their "internal issue".

The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance is an opposition bloc of 26 parties, which was formed recently to take on the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The first meeting of the opposition parties was held in Patna and the second one at Bengaluru where the name INDIA was adopted by the bloc.

Asked if the INDIA meeting in Mumbai would be more meaningful than the earlier editions held in Patna and Bengaluru, Deora said every meeting of the INDIA bloc is equally important.

"With each subsequent meeting, the action plan going forward gets fine-tuned. I am personally helping organise the Mumbai meeting and I'm very optimistic about its success," the former Union minister said.

On whether more parties could join the 26-party alliance in Mumbai, the 46-year-old said the exact list of invitees and attendees was being finalised by the MVA partners in close coordination with one another.

Asked whether a forward movement on seat sharing, forming a coordination committee and appointing a convenor for the alliance could take place at the Mumbai meeting, he said these are subjects that may be discussed at the Mumbai meeting next week.

"However, in many states, seat sharing and even seat distribution is more or less finalised. There are only a few states that may require more time," Deora said.

On whether there is a need for evolving a common minimum programme in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, he said, "Again, these topics are work in progress. I am certain that all INDIA partners will come up with a common political and developmental agenda that is forward looking, constructive and appeals to everyone." Asked whether the Congress has to be the fulcrum of the alliance as was the case in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the Congress leader said his party is already playing the role of coordinating various activities and initiatives within the INDIA alliance.

"We worked very harmoniously with coalition partners in UPA and I see that trend continuing in INDIA as well," he added. He also said that he was pleasantly surprised with the evolving chemistry between the alliance partners.

"The best example is in Maharashtra. I don't know a single person who ever imagined that the Congress and the Shiv Sena could come together," Deora said.

On the alliance not touching upon the prickly leadership issue, Deora said there was still time for the Lok Sabha elections and with each meeting of the INDIA alliance, significant progress is being made.

Responding to the criticism of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the INDIA bloc, Deora said, "India's electoral history and math clearly demonstrate that when there are only two parties and candidates in the fray, no party or leader is invincible." At the conclave held in the Karnataka capital last month, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had said the opposition will fight the 2024 elections unitedly and succeed. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said their fight was against BJP's ideology.

The leaders of the INDIA front, including chief ministers of five states, as well as former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are expected to arrive in Mumbai on August 31.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will host dinner for the visiting dignitaries at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in suburban Mumbai on August 31. The next day, the meeting will take place at the same venue followed by a press conference.

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Published: 27 Aug 2023, 1:26 PM