Expressing confidence about the party faring well in the upcoming assembly polls in five states, some Congress leaders have called for delaying the seat-sharing talks with INDIA bloc partners for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections till November so as to do it from a position of strength, sources said.
The call from a section of leaders, particularly those from states where the Congress is directly in a contest with some INDIA bloc partners, came while the top party leadership pitched for strengthening the Congress as well as the opposition bloc.
Sources said several leaders supported the call to strengthen the Congress organisation and the opposition INDIA alliance during the two-day brainstorming session of the Congress Working Committee, but they asserted that the party should not rush into seat-sharing arrangements with like-minded parties.
During the two-day parleys, Sonia Gandhi called for strengthening the INDIA alliance, while Rahul Gandhi said both the Congress party and the opposition bloc should be strengthened. Several leaders pointed out that this should not be done at the cost of the Congress, the sources said.
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During the extended CWC meet on Sunday, the party’s state unit chiefs of the four poll-bound states gave their reports on preparedness and the road map for winning the polls.
During the deliberations, some leaders expressed apprehensions about AAP leaders continuing their attack and causing hurt to party leaders even when they had stopped doing so, sources said.
Some Delhi and Punjab leaders, including former Union minister Ajay Maken, Alka Lamba and Partap Singh Bajwa, spoke against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the sources added.
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, the sources said, assured the state leaders that any talks on seat sharing with other parties would be done only in consultations with state units.
Maken, the sources said, told the leadership that while they were in favour of the INDIA bloc, the Congress should not rush into seat-sharing talks and should wait till the results in these five states come. He called for holding seat-sharing talks from a position of strength instead of doing so now, as the opposition parties were pushing for it in their interest.
Maken, a former union minister, said that AAP leaders were announcing contesting in states where the Congress was in a position to form its government and were attacking Congress leaders. He demanded that it should stop.
Punjab leaders Bajwa and Amrinder Singh Raja Warring did not favour having a tie-up with the AAP in their state, as their leaders were being targeted, sources said.
Sources add that Punjab PCC chief Raja Warring also raised the point, but was told to raise the issue and discuss it separately with the party leadership.
Some leaders of the INDIA alliance want that seat sharing should be done at the earliest and Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP and Akhilesh Yadav of the SP have called for doing this by September-end.
The opposition parties are working towards putting up one joint candidate against the NDA in every Lok Sabha constituency, but there are several obstacles before a final arrangement is made. There are differences on seat sharing among parties in several states, including Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala.