A meeting of chiefs of all the Opposition parties which are part of the I.N.D.I.A bloc will now be held in the third week of December. The after-effects of the disastrous performance of Congress in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assembly polls are already visible in the relationships between the main constituents. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge had called an informal meeting of the alliance on December 6 at his residence, but key party leaders like Mamata Banerjee, and Akhilesh Yadav decided to give it a skip. Mamata Banerjee complained that she was not told about the meeting, and she had already fixed her visit to North Bengal from December 6 to 12. Later, Congress leaders clarified that the meeting at Kharge’s residence was of Parliament floor leaders, and it has been convened to discuss parliament strategy. In Kolkata, Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee said Congress must discard its arrogant attitude, while another Trinamool leader Kunal Ghosh bluntly demanded that the leadership mantle should now be given to his party, if the opposition wants to win the 2024 elections. Ghosh alleged that Congress leaders had become arrogant. Most of the opposition leaders cited the example of Madhya Pradesh and said, had the Congress given some seats to the Samajwadi Party, the results could have been different. SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav said, Congress has now seen the result of its arrogance and all the parties will have to come together and accord respect to one another. Kerala chief minister and CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was scathing in his attack. He said, “Congress has displayed greed, seeking to pocket everything and dominate rather than unite all anti-BJP forces. The election outcome is a consequence of such an attitude.” The CPI(M) leader alleged that Congress is facing serious internal dissension and this is having an adverse impact on talks with other constituent parties. It may be recalled that the I.N.D.I.A alliance had planned to hold a joint public rally in Bhopal during the MP elections, but Congress leader Kamal Nath stalled it. Since then, there has been no joint meeting or rally by the INDIA alliance. On seat adjustment talks with the Samajwadi party, Kamal Nath had remarked in front of reporters, “What is Akhilesh-Vakhilesh?”. Later Congress leaders had to salvage the situation by mollifying their angry SP counterparts. On Monday, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said, Congress must understand that the ‘zamindari’ system has been abolished in India, but there are some Congress leaders who consider their areas of influence as ‘zamindari’. It is because of such leaders that the Congress lost, Raut said. National Conference chief Omar Abdullah said Congress leaders were flying high in the air, and after the elections, they have been grounded. Abdullah said, Congress has suddenly woken up after three months about the INDIA alliance. He said it is difficult to say what will be the fate of the alliance. Congress leader Sachin Pilot agreed that his party did commit some mistakes and lost, but the reasons of defeat must be analysed. Though none of the opposition leaders are saying it in the open, but most of them, in private discussions, are raising questions about Congress leadership. On Monday, a JD(U) leader Vijay Choudhary demanded that the leadership of the I.N.D.I.A alliance should be in the hands of a tried and tested leader who has been successful in the past. He was pointing towards Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. It is a fact that there are some leaders in Congress who are unwilling to accept the truth that because of defeats in the three Hindi heartland states, the party is now on the back foot and its bargaining power in I.N.D.I.A alliance has weakened. Congress MP Manickam Tagore said, Congress got more votes than the BJP and the party will lead the opposition in states except Tamil Nadu, UP and Kerala. One big effect of the electoral debacle has been that ‘dadagiri’ (Big Brother attitude) of Congress leaders in the Opposition alliance has now ended. Most of the opposition leaders are now saying that Congress cannot defeat BJP and Rahul Gandhi has proved to be a loser in the fight against Modi. The balloon that Congress had raised after its win in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, has now gone flat. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, nursing his electoral wounds in MP, showed details of postal ballots on social media to say that his party won the postal ballots, but lost in EVMs. Such leaders do not mention that postal ballots are few and they are mainly from employees involved in election duty. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh quoted voting percentage figures to say that Congress is still in the reckoning. There is no doubt that Congress is a party which has support in most states of the country, but if you look from the electoral point of view, Congress is now confined to only two states in the South (Karnataka and Telangana) and a small state (Himachal Pradesh) in the north. The party has been decimated in UP and Bihar and it has lost the key states of MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. What will the Congress say now, if leaders of regional parties demand that they be allowed to lead the opposition alliance? What reply can Rahul Gandhi give, if Lalu Prasad starts demanding that Nitish Kumar be made the INDIA convenor? Lalu’s aim to install his son as Bihar CM will be fulfilled only when Nitish goes from Bihar to the Centre. But Nitish is facing a different problem.
NITISH KUMAR’S DISAPPEARANCE ACT
Questions are being raised in Bihar about Nitish’s health, with leaders like Chirag Paswan, Giriraj Singh and Jitan Ram Manjhi demanding that the government should issue a health bulletin about the CM. On Tuesday, Nitish Kumar attended a cabinet meeting. There have been reports that Nitish Kumar may be suffering from loss of memory. He has been making mistakes in recognizing the faces of prominent people. The chief minister has not appeared in public for the last 10 days. JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said leaders should avoid making unnecessary speculations about the chief minister’s health. Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh said that Nitish Kumar is fine and he is not suffering from any health-related problems. When the famous “sex education” incident inside the assembly took place, a senior JD(U) leader had told me to ignore the chief minister’s remarks because his mental health was not in proper shape. I pray to Almighty that all these speculations are proved false. It is not good to hear such remarks about a leader holding the Constitutional post of chief minister. Politics in Bihar today is in such a shape that if Nitish does not appear in public, it will surely give rise to unnecessary speculations. It will be better if his health situation is officially communicated to the public.
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