Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress president, has emerged as the favored choice for the chairperson of the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) following a virtual meeting of Opposition leaders on Saturday.
During the meeting, the suggestion for Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar to serve as the convener of the group was proposed by all attendees. However, Mr. Kumar neither immediately accepted nor rejected the proposal, and a final decision will be made after consulting with leaders who were absent from the meeting, including Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray, and Akhilesh Yadav.
While unanimity prevailed regarding Mr. Kharge, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren recommended Rahul Gandhi as a potential leader for the bloc due to his youth and dynamism. Nevertheless, Mr. Gandhi declined, emphasizing Mr. Kharge’s experience and his role as the party president. The meeting also addressed the issue of Mr. Kumar’s reluctance to accept the convener position, with JD(U) general secretary Sanjay Jha confirming the developments but clarifying that Mr. Kumar had not yet approved the proposal. Dismissing speculations about Mr. Kumar being upset, Mr. Jha stated that the Bihar Chief Minister himself had suggested a Congress member head the coalition.
The top Congress leaders present included Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and K.C. Venugopal, alongside other opposition leaders such as M.K. Stalin, Hemant Soren, Arvind Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, D. Raja, and Sitaram Yechury. The meeting covered various topics, including the Congress’s decision to decline an invitation to the consecration ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The discussion also touched upon the appointment of a chairperson and convener for the alliance, with Mr. Yechury inquiring about it. Although there was consensus on making Nitish Kumar the convener, he expressed minimal interest and suggested considering other candidates, including Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Some leaders used the meeting to address important issues, such as accommodating the Left parties in seat-sharing talks and avoiding internal differences that could benefit the BJP in certain states. Rahul Gandhi emphasized that local issues should not hinder the alliance’s national plans. The meeting concluded with a positive note, with Mallikarjun Kharge describing it as a fruitful gathering of the INDIA Coordination Committee. He shared details about progressing seat-sharing talks and discussed joint programs in the coming days, inviting all INDIA parties to join the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ to address social, political, and economic issues affecting the country’s citizens.