Congress considers contesting 255 seats in 2024 Lok Sabha polls amid rift in INDIA bloc

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The Congress party has informed its state units that it is considering to field candidates in 255 seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, according to media reports. The Congress on Thursday held a meeting with party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal in attendance. 

The leaders met members of the party’s five-member national alliance committee, and hinted at the willingness to contest from a lesser number of seats than it did during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, Indian Express reported. 

According to the report, amid much anticipation about seat-sharing by opposition INDIA bloc parties, the Congress has asked members to begin seat-sharing talks with other parties immediately.

The Indian Express report quoting people familiar with the developments mentioned that Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge told a separate meeting of AICC general secretaries and state in-charges, state Congress presidents, and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders earlier in the day that the party would focus on 255 seats.

The opposition INDIA bloc is yet to formally declare its seat-sharing decision for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, even before a meeting could be held, the Congress seemed to have had run-ins with several regional parties over seat-sharing. Regional political partisan conflicts have erupted in West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Punjab. 

In West Bengal, Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury led-Congress has displayed a rift with INDIA bloc ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the latter’s claim that the TMC would give the Congress two seats from West Bengal. Notably, Adhir Chowdhury and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee have opposed each other for the seat of governance in West Bengal, forever. Congress leaders from West Bengal suggested demanding six seats and possibly securing at least four from the TMC, India Today reported. 

In Punjab, the Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Congress have engaged in mud-slinging and bickering despite being INDIA bloc allies. 

In Maharashtra, Sanjay Raut of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena (UBT), had remarked that the Congress should start seat-sharing talks with the former, as the party has “not won any seat” in the state.

The Lok Sabha comprises a total of 545 seats. Out of these, elections will be conducted by the Election Commission to fill 543 seats.

Further, the Congress had a bitter episode with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party about seat-sharing ahead of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections. The Congress lost the assembly polls. However, after the results, Congress veteran Kamal Nath’s “Akhilesh, Vakhilesh” jibe had come to focus, with political experts suggesting, a seat-sharing would have the grand old party better. The Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders laid out a demand for 40 seats, but hoped to secure 20 through negotiations with the Samajwadi Party, India Today report stated. 

The report also mentioned that Congress leaders from Jharkhand staked claim in 12 seats out of the total 14, and said they should not settle below seven.

2019 Lok Sabha Elections for Congress: A recap

In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the Congress party had contested 421 seats, winning only 52. It was part of alliances in a handful of states — with the RJD in Bihar, NCP in Maharashtra, JD(S) in Karnataka, JMM in Jharkhand, and the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

The Congress had contested only nine out of the 40 seats in Bihar, seven of the 14 seats in Jharkhand, 21 of the 28 seats in Karnataka, 25 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra, and nine of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. In Uttar Pradesh, it contested 70 of the 80 seats.

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Published: 05 Jan 2024, 03:12 PM IST


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