The Congress is going ahead with the INDIA bloc meeting convened by it on Wednesday to formulate a strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls but it will hold another round of parleys involving top opposition leaders in the third week of December, sources said.
The move comes as some opposition leaders of the bloc, including TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, said they won't be able to attend the meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
Gurdeep Sappal, CWC member and coordinator Congress president's office, "A coordination meeting of Parliamentary Party leaders of INDIA Alliance will be held at 6 pm on December 6 at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge." "Thereafter meeting of party presidents/heads of the INDIA Alliance will be scheduled in third week of December at a date convenient to all," Sappal, who is also a Member of Campaign Committee of INDIA alliance, said.
Sources said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is unwell while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin is unable to attend due to the cyclone that has hit his state. The West Bengal chief minister, they said, is busy with a family wedding.
The sources said the three leaders had urged the Congress chief to postpone the meeting.
"But INDIA block meeting is on, being attended by party floor leaders at 6 PM at 10, Rajaji Marg residence of the Congress president," a source said.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said on Tuesday that Akhilesh Yadav has no plans to attend the meeting on December 6.
When asked if the decision was taken after the declaration of assembly poll results in four states, the spokesperson said there was no information about the meeting earlier.
"The Samajwadi Party national president has no plans to attend the meeting of the INDIA bloc tomorrow. Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav or any other leader authorised by the national president will go for the meeting," Chaudhary told PTI.
In Delhi, Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said his party will attend the meeting although Akhilesh Yadav may not be present.
He said the Samajwadi Party chief is busy with some programmes in the Purvanchal region. "It doesn't matter if a leader does not participate. All parties will be there in the meeting." "Leaders are busy, they have prior commitments... the meeting was announced suddenly. Akhilesh will not attend as he has some programme in Purvanchal, I will attend (the meeting)," he said.
The meeting convened by the Congress comes after the BJP emerged victorious in three Hindi heartland states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh - while Congress won Telangana.
There have been rumblings within the INDIA bloc after Congress' loss in the three states in the Hindi heartland, with the Samajwadi Party, which was miffed after being ignored in seat-sharing, expressing its displeasure openly.
Leaders of parties like the Shiv Sena (UBT), JD(U) and Aam Aadmi Party have said that the Congress should be more accommodating of regional allies.
In Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Congress thought it was competent to win against the BJP on its own and did not join forces with the other INDIA alliance parties "due to its greed".
"Had they joined hands with the other parties, this would not have been the result. They were greedy and lusted for power. They wanted it all for themselves. That is what led to this situation in those states," the Left leader had said.
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