Following setbacks in three critical Hindi-belt states, Congress leadership is now eager to demonstrate pragmatism and flexibility in convincing the INDI Alliance partners at their meeting on 19 December to make significant progress in productive seat-sharing discussions, exploring shared agendas, and organising joint rallies in anticipation of the Lok Sabha elections.
Citing familiar people with these discussions, the Economic Times reported that although the AICC officially announced the date of the fourth INDI Alliance meeting on Sunday after consulting with allies, Congress officials have gone the extra mile to appease the SP and JDU leaderships, who the Congress had previously denied accommodation in the assembly elections.
The allies' recent refusal of the AICC's unilateral decision to hold an INDI Alliance meeting on 6 December sparked these actions. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some JDU and Trinamool Congress (TMC) members are advocating for Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee to take on leadership roles, respectively.
Moreover, there's a possibility that some regional heavyweights may aim for the alliance's convenorship. Prior to the recent state elections, the AICC had put the INDI Alliance meeting on hold, with the expectation of a strong electoral performance. Nitish Kumar had expressed disappointment over this.
Although the DMK continues to be an important ally for Congress, it is understood that the AICC has initiated dialogue with the Tamil Nadu ally's leadership, encouraging them to exercise caution and take into account the broader alliance's sensitivity when making public statements.
The AICC, having previously been the target of BJP's criticism following controversial comments made by DMK members on Sanatana Dharma, sought to engage with the DMK leadership after its MP caused controversy with his 'gaumutra states' comment last week.
Following the AICC's appeal to the DMK, MP DNV Senthil Kumar retracted his statement and apologised in the Lok Sabha, just as the AICC was prepared to officially distance itself from his comment.
The AICC is set to enforce mandatory appointments of CLP leaders and fill certain positions in the three states where they suffered polling defeats. However, the main focus of the leadership will be on maintaining and safeguarding overall unity.
This approach is aimed at preventing the creation of fresh divisions through aggressive recruitment within these states' party units, especially considering the high command's significant stakes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections next year.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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