The end result of the polls in the Hindi heartland will influence the permutation and combination of the 28-party INDIA bloc
NEW DELHI: As the political outfits, particularly the BJP and the Congress, wait with bated breath for the results on Sunday, the outcome of the Assembly elections in five states is expected to have a major impact on the political narratives before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The election results will shape the dynamics of both the BJP-led NDA and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). The end result of the polls in the Hindi heartland -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- will influence the permutation and combination of the 28-party INDIA bloc.
Speaking to this newspaper, Congress MP Manish Tewari, however, claimed that "irrespective of the results, the INDIA bloc will only get consolidated." He indicated that the alliance was forged to stem the breakdown of the federal structure under the present regime. He also pointed out the "misuse of the Enforcement Directorate" by the Centre against its political rivals.
However, sources revealed that if the Congress performed well in the majority of the five states that went to the polls, the party might try to dictate terms to other constituents of the INDIA bloc. While projecting Congress scion Rahul Gandhi might not go down well with its allies at this juncture, attempts could be made to come up with a more acceptable face to lead the alliance.
Speculations were rife that the dalit Congress president Malliakrjun Kharge could emerge as a consensus candidate to lead the alliance. When asked, Mr Tewari made it categorically clear that while Mr Gandhi was "not lusting for power", if Mr Kharge's name "evolves organically, it will be good".
Refuting speculations that the Congress might try to flex its muscles if it did well in the state polls, Mr Tewari insisted that "regardless of the outcome, the party will not try to thrust anything" on the alliance.
Sources in the Congress, however, revealed that the major problem will be the issue of seat sharing. A senior party functionary from Uttar Pradesh argued that if the outcome favoured the Congress, the party might try to throw its weight around during seat sharing. The problem areas could be the states where the regional outfits dominate. He felt that in states like UP, Bihar and West Bengal, where the regional outfits dominate the electoral scenario, the Congress "should play the role of a junior partner and make adjustments".
On its part, the BJP has also been holding parleys with the "like-minded outfits" to expand the NDA. The major advantage for the BJP, however, is their "charismatic vote-catching machine -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi," a BJP leader said.
The BJP-led NDA "will rely heavily on Modiji once again to decimate the opponents," he added.