Mamata Banerjee to skip INDIA bloc’s crucial virtual meeting today | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Leaders of INDIA bloc parties will hold a virtual meeting on Saturday morning where strengthening the anti-BJP platform and seat-sharing are expected to be the main subjects of discussion. The grouping is also likely to deliberate on the appointment of a convener for which Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is understood to have been in touch with leaders of all parties, including Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Sources said JD(U) has been reaching out to INDIA partners to garner support for Kumar’s nomination as the bloc’s convenor and Kharge’s appointment as chairman, a suggestion that Congress appears not too keen on.
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee will not attend the meeting “as she has other engagements”, party leaders said. Banerjee had earlier sought Kharge’s appointment as the head of the bloc, a demand that was rejected instantly by the Congress chief. A consensus among allies will also be critical for Kumar’s appointment, and Banerjee’s consent, especially, may be needed.
The meeting comes as seat-sharing talks between Congress and other allies gather pace. TMC has already turned down the National Alliance Committee’s request to send its representatives to a meeting where seat-sharing in West Bengal can be discussed. Congress, which is keen to contest six seats, is now likely to pursue the issue with Banerjee amid speculation that TMC is unwilling to part with more than three of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, one more than Congress won in 2019. Sources said TMC has indicated its willingness to consider Congress’ request provided it gives up an equal number of seats for TMC in Meghalaya and Assam.
Congress also held the second round of seat-sharing talks with AAP on Friday, which ended inconclusively on the back of AAP’s demand to be accommodated in one seat each in Goa and Gujarat, and three in Haryana.
Seat-sharing talks between Congress and its state allies in Maharashtra and Jharkhand are in advanced stages, while talks with SP for UP are also on course, sources said. However, difficult conversations are likely in Bihar, where JD(U) appears eager to contest 16 of 40 LS seats, leaving Congress to negotiate with RJD on the remaining 24.
While there is pressure from some partners to finish negotiations preferably before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra starts, sources said a final picture of seat-sharing is likely to emerge only around January 26.

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