Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule on Monday claimed that there was no confusion within the INDIA blov on the issue of seat-sharing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. She said a great deal of things about seat-sharing were sorted out during a recent meeting between Sonia Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar. Details of the meeting, which was held a fortnight ago, would be made public in the coming days, she told media on Monday.
Sule's statement is significant in the context of Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut's frontal attack on the Congress. Raut, who had staked claims to 23 seats, said the Congress had to start from scratch. Sule said, "Certain ups and downs in seat-sharing was natural, but that did not weaken the unity of the alliance."
'Prakash Ambedkar will play an important role in INDIA'
When asked about the role of Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi President Prakash Ambedkar in the INDIA bloc, Sule said that he will definitely play an important role in the alliance.
Earlier, former Lok Sabha MP Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar, reiterated his interest in joining the MVA and INDIA bloc ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
Ambedkar, in his letter to Mallikarjun Kharge, Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray, stressed the need to adopt his proposed formula of 12 seats for each party. He termed the '12+12+12+12 formula' as a 'conflict-free' plan to decide on the number of seat sharing in the state.
'Should fight LS election as equal partners'
Emphasising that "defeating Modi should be the only priority for MVA", Prakash Ambedkar in his letter mentioned that the "VBA desired that the parties within the MVA- Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray), Nationalist Congress Party, Indian National Congress and VBA should fight the upcoming Lok Sabha elections together and on an equal number of seats as equal partners." Meanwhile, amid debate and discussion in the MVA over seat sharing between parties of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the Shiv Sena (UBT) has demanded 23 seats out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
Congress will have to start from zero: Raut
UBT Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, "I had said that Congress will have to start from zero, I did not say that Congress is zero. Congress does not have a single MP in Maharashtra. We had 18 MPs but some left and we've 6 MPs now. Our alliance is there with Congress and Maha Vikas Aghadi will win around 40 seats. BJP needs EVMs to win, they cannot win alone. Their alliance is with EVM..." However, the Congress party, in reply to the demand of Shiv Sena (UBT), said that seat sharing is a complicated subject and the decision can't be taken easily.
"If all parties in the INDIA block need to fight together and defeat the BJP, then we need to stop infighting. From the newspaper, I got to know that Shiv Sena has demanded 23 seats, which is a lot," said Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam.
'Winnability will a criteria'
The 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be held next year. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole on Monday said there are no differences in Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) over the allocation of seats. He also said "winnability" will be the criterion for the distribution of tickets.
Meanwhile, Raut said no meeting has been held for the appointment of a convener or chairperson of the opposition INDIA alliance.
With little time left for the Lok Sabha polls, the opposition INDIA bloc parties met on December 19, 2023 and decided to finalise seat-sharing as soon as possible.
At the meeting, some leaders also proposed Mallikarjun Kharge's name as the prime ministerial face of the coalition, but the Congress chief said it is important to win first and the leadership issue can then be decided "democratically".
Asked if JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar would be the face of the opposition alliance, Raut on Monday told reporters, "No meeting of INDIA bloc has taken place recently. Even during the last meeting in Delhi, no such proposal came up." He said Mr Thackeray has expressed the need to have a "face of the opposition bloc".
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)