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Meeting of INDIA Bloc’s Key Panel Today, Focus On Seat-Sharing Formula

The INDIA group’s coordination committee is expected to discuss formulas for seat adjustments and set deadlines for state pacts between the opposition parties in its first meeting in the capital on Wednesday, setting in motion the alliance’s plan for the 2024 elections.

The formula for sharing seats will be based on the performance of parties in past elections and the strength of the largest party that is a member of the grouping in every state, leaders of the bloc said, asking not to be named.

The focus on seat adjustment comes in the backdrop of the Mumbai resolution of the group. “Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take,” the alliance said in a statement on September 1.

At least four heavyweights, chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Nitish Kumar, along with Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Yadav, are believed to have pressed for an immediate discussion on seats even during that meeting, citing the proximity of the elections, the leaders cited above said. Lok Sabha elections are expected in April-May next year.

The meeting will also discuss and approve some of the proposals of the other four panels on campaign, social media, research, and media. These panels met over the past few weeks and have finalised a number of proposals, especially on campaign strategies, and sent these to the coordination committee.

The coordination panel will meet at 4pm on Wednesday at Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar’s house in New Delhi. The panel will discuss strict timelines for sealing seat pacts, which is crucial for the alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the parliamentary polls, two of the leaders cited in the first instance said. As for seat-sharing, the members of the bloc will try and evolve a set of principles, HT learns.

One of these could be the performance of the parties in the past general elections. But this is likely to set a benchmark for discussion rather than be a deciding principle. “If one strictly goes by the performance of parties in the polls, it might lead to a very lopsided formula in Delhi or West Bengal. Therefore, some flexibility is required,” a third leader added. For instance, in Delhi and West Bengal, the Congress does not have any seats in the assembly.

Still, to ensure there’s a complete consensus, the strongest opposition party in each state may be allowed to take a final call on the formula, a Congress leader said. “This was agreed at the group’s first meeting at Patna on June 23.”

The coordination panel might also allow third-party mediators, meaning senior leaders of parties that are part of the alliance, but from outside the state involved, to mediate, HT learns. While seat-sharing agreements in Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are expected to be easy — there are already well-defined ones in place — states such as West Bengal, Delhi and Punjab might need extensive discussions.

The coordination committee “will give stamp of approval on the decisions taken in other panels and chalk out the future programme and a campaign strategy”, RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha said on Monday.