With Congress failing to hold the fort in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and exploit anti-incumbency against four-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Madhya Pradesh polls, the principal Opposition party appears to have little option but get back to the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc again on pitching a combined challenge to the Modi-led BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge reached out to partner leaders for the INDIA bloc meeting on December 6 after its bargaining power appears to have slipped from the buoyant positioning it had following the Karnataka Assembly polls victory, and the initial assessment that it would put up a good show in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.

Riding on that confidence, Kharge stated on October 25 that the talks on seat sharing among the INDIA bloc for the Lok Sabha polls would be held after the results of the Assembly polls in the five States are announced. The results for Mizoram elections were rescheduled and would be out on Monday.

Before these Assembly polls touted to set the mood for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the INDIA bloc was unable to forge alliance among friendly parties in the five States, largely due to conflicting political interests among themselves and Congress’ unaccommodating approach, said Opposition leaders. The feud between Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP), for instance, on the seat sharing in MP was out in the open in the run up to the elections when former CM Kamal Nath had belittled ex-CM of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav.

Though tall Maharashtra leader and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar believes the Sunday’s results would have little bearing on the INDIA bloc that houses 25 opposition parties, others have a different take.

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters in Udhampur that the opposition alliance cannot win polls if the situation remains like this in future. “On December 6, the Congress chief has invited some INDIA alliance leaders for lunch. They recalled the INDIA alliance after three months. Let’s see,” he remarked on what lies ahead for the INDIA.

Abdullah, who will also be facing elections in Jammu and Kashmir most probably either with Lok Sabha polls or after it, also stated that the Congress should have shared seats to its INDIA bloc partner, Samajwadi Party, in Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, the NC leader hinted that his party will contest alone in the polls to the J&K, where other INDIA bloc partners Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are also a formidable political force.