The Congress party’s likely strategy for the Lok Sabha election of 2024 was made clearer at the party’s plenary session held in Raipur. For the year 2024 in particular, its strategy for establishing partnerships has become crystal clear. By stating that a third front would help the NDA, Congress effectively conceded the lead to the BJP. Concern about a third front can be understood as a metaphor for the current state of politics.
South and east Indian regional parties are extremely powerful in state politics. As an example, all of Andhra Pradesh’s 25 seats in the 2019 LS election were won by regional parties. Most importantly, no political faction will give up ground voluntarily.
On a national scale, alliances may also be forged after the election. Because defending their state’s and party’s interest takes precedence over political ideals, regional parties are typically flexible when it comes to aligning after elections. As a result, it’s possible that seeking ideological harmony won’t go somewhere fruitful. The BJP’s openness to a wide variety of allies is indicative of the high value placed on electoral viability in Indian politics.
With this context, nine assemblies will be electing representatives in 2023, which will undoubtedly have an impact on alliance formation. Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh are the four states where Congress and BJP will face off in these nine elections. Congress’s negotiating position will be significantly affected by the outcome of this vote. If political parties believe Congress is not electorally competitive in states, even “like-minded” parties may be uncooperative.
In 2024, Congress will certainly need to be a part of an alliance in which all participants recognise the importance of focusing on their own capabilities. But, such an alliance will not accept Congress in the lead position unless assembly elections in 2023 demonstrate Congress’s ability to beat BJP. If Congress is successful this year, which is a big if, all the manoeuvrings of opposition leaders outside of Congress will be rendered moot.