Consensus on Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s appointment as chairperson of INDIA bloc: Sources

This comes after Kharge's name was proposed as prime ministerial candidate of the INDIA bloc by Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 13, 2024 | 5:33 PMUpdatedJan 13, 2024 | 5:33 PM

Mallikarjun Kharge

A consensus has emerged on the name of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for appointment as the chairperson of the Opposition bloc INDIA on Saturday, 13 January, sources told PTI.

This comes after Kharge’s name was proposed as the prime ministerial candidate for the INDIA bloc by the chief ministers of West Bengal and Delhi, Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, respectively.

The AICC chief’s name was proposed as the prime ministerial candidate during the INDIA bloc meeting held on 19 December, 2023, in Delhi.

Taking to the social media platform X, Kharge said, “Everyone is happy that the seat-sharing talks are progressing in a positive way.”

He added that, along with Rahul Gandhi, they have invited the INDIA bloc leaders to join the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

Also read: Mallikarjun Kharge needs to assert caste leader identity

Virtual meeting 

Leaders of the bloc met virtually and discussed various aspects of the alliance and the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, due in April-May.

Sources said leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT), and the Samajwadi Party (SP) did not attend the meeting.

According to the sources, a consensus emerged on Kharge’s appointment as the chairperson of the bloc. An official announcement on the appointment is awaited.

The leaders also decided to make Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar the convenor of the bloc, but a final call will be taken after consulting the parties whose representatives were not present in the meeting, the sources said.

Kharge as the PM candidate

At the meeting held on 19 December, Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal had proposed Kharge’s name as the prime ministerial candidate of the bloc.

The veteran Congress leader, however, is said to have turned down the offer, pointing out that it was important to win first and everything else could be decided later.

After his name was proposed as the Opposition bloc’s candidate to become the country’s first Dalit prime minister at a meeting attended by 28 Opposition leaders, Kharge said, “I work for the downtrodden. Let’s win first, then we will see. I don’t seek anything.”

MDMK leader Vaiko had said, after the meeting, that Kharge’s name was proposed by Banerjee and Kejriwal. “There was no opposition to that name, Mr Kharge’s,” Vaiko had told reporters.

Related: Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal propose Kharge as PM face

Seat-sharing—major challenge

The INDIA bloc has been conducting talks on seat-sharing ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

On 10 January, the Congress said its president Kharge was in touch with leaders of all INDIA bloc constituents to ensure closer coordination in the Opposition alliance.

The assertion comes amid talk that the alliance could have a convener, with the name of JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar doing the rounds for the post.

“Kharge is in touch with leaders of all parties of the INDIA bloc on how best to give structure to ensure closer coordination in the alliance,” AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.

Also read: Discussions have started on next INDIA bloc meeting: Bihar DyCM

Public meetings

Earlier, Kharge had said that INDIA bloc parties will focus on seat-sharing talks at the state level and hold public meetings across the country, stressing that any decision on the prime ministerial candidate will be taken only after the elections.

Sources said that INDIA bloc parties have decided to finalise seat-sharing by the second week of January.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of top leaders of the INDIA bloc, Kharge said, “All INDIA parties unanimously decided how to take the alliance forward. At least 8-10 meetings will be done together across the country.”

“If alliance members don’t come on the same stage, people will not come to know of the alliance. Everyone agreed to it,” he said.

As many as 28 Opposition parties have come together under the banner of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to take on the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

(With PTI inputs)