Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram will go to the polls between November 7 and 30 while the results will be declared on December 3. This will be the last major electoral exercise ahead of the 2024 elections. The assembly polls are also the first since 26 Opposition parties formed the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc in July to take on the BJP in these elections. But the first signs of friction in the anti-BJP INDIA bloc emerged on October 19 with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav accusing the Congress of betrayal in Madhya Pradesh. Akhilesh, whose party has so far announced 31 candidates for the 230-member Assembly elections due on November 17, said the INDIA bloc was only at the national level days after asking the Congress to clarify whether the tie-up was also at the state level.
The SP which has named 31 candidates for the Madhya Pradesh polls has been looking to expand outside Uttar Pradesh to become a national party. It has since its inception in 1992 been a regional party. Earlier, AAP, another constituent of INDIA bloc, declared 39 candidates for Madhya Pradesh where the Congress is directly pitted against the BJP. Trouble for the Congress in the INDIA bloc seems to be multiplying. Now the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), another constituent of the bloc has demanded at least six seats in poll-bound Rajasthan. In the 2018 Rajasthan polls, RLD had fought on two seats — Bharatpur and Malpura. It won Bharatpur. This time, RLD, which is contesting as an ally of the Congress in Rajasthan, is learnt to have demanded more seats in the Jat-dominated districts like Jhunjhunu, Churu, Hanumangarh, Bharatpur, Bikaner and Sikar. Jats form over 10 per cent of the electorate and wield influence in around 40 of the 200 seats in Rajasthan.
However, the silence of the Congress leadership is adding to the bitterness among the allies. It is clear that unless the Congress leadership intervenes and tries to resolve the crisis that is building up in Uttar Pradesh, the INDIA bloc will crumble in the state that matters most. Even as the Congress leadership maintains a studied silence on the growing divide in the INDIA bloc, Akhilesh alleged that some Congress leaders were in cahoots with the BJP. Akhilesh warned that the Congress will get the same treatment in Uttar Pradesh that it was laying out for SP in Madhya Pradesh. The exchange of remarks between the two parties is a clear indication of the simmering tension within the Opposition alliance ahead of the Assembly elections in the five states. The INDIA bloc formed with the idea of uniting the Opposition against the BJP in elections, seems to have no plan in place for the assembly elections.