The third meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) Opposition coalition concluded in Mumbai on 1 September, with the parties resolving to "contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible".
The alliance seems to be proceeding in a systematic way, with the first meeting in Patna in June providing a foundation for unity, the name 'INDIA' being announced in the August meeting in Bengaluru, and the Mumbai meeting providing the alliance's slogan and some kind of an organisational structure.
This article will look at the key takeaways from the Mumbai meeting.
After the meeting, the INDIA parties announced the formation of a 14-member committee for coordination, comprising the following members:
KC Venugopal, INC
Sharad Pawar, NCP
TR Baalu, DMK
Hemant Soren, JMM
Sanjay Raut, SS
Tejashwi Yadav, RJD
Abhishek Banerjee, TMC
Raghav Chaddha, AAP
Javed Ali Khan, SP
Lallan Singh, JD(U)
D Raja, CPI
Omar Abdullah, NC
Mehbooba Mufti, PDP
CPI-M to give name later
Separate working groups have been announced for campaigns, media, social media and research that would all be answerable to the coordination committee.
The coordination committee and four working groups will function as some sort of a secretariat for the alliance.
The resolution passed by the coalition said that they will be contesting the Lok Sabha elections together "as far as possible" and that "seat sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give and take".
The coalition is also likely to begin holding joint rallies on different issues.
Sources said that the leaders present also discussed the possibility that the Narendra Modi government could go for early elections.
The alliance has announced the slogan 'Judega Bharat, Jeetega India'. The slogan is a play on both the name of the alliance as well as the Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra that had concluded in January this year.
Sources said that there was broad consensus on the slogan. However, discussions on a possible logo or symbol are likely to continue.
Sharad Pawar Makes His Stand Clear
In the run-up to the meeting, there was a great deal of speculation on the stand of Sharad Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party, especially following his meeting with his nephew Ajit Pawar who switched to the NDA.
Addressing the press after the meeting Pawar said, "We will not bend. We will not go down the wrong path. As far as those who are going down the wrong path are concerned, we will try and bring them on the correct parth. And if they don't, then we'll shun them away".
This seemed to have been an indirect reference to Ajit Pawar and an attempt to put an end to any speculation of the NCP as a whole shifting to the NDA.
It is creditable that since the formation of the alliance in June, no party has left the coaltion and neither has there been any major disagreement between two or more parties. The only exception was the split in the NCP, but even that was an intra-party matter and not a dispute between two parties.
"The stronger the INDIA coalition becomes, there will be attempts by big powers to break our unity. Suddenly news may appear talking about 'divisions'. But we are completely united. We have had three meetings so far and there has been no disagreement whatsoever. The meetings have taken place in a atmosphere of camaraderie."Arvind Kejriwa, Delhi CM and AAP convenor
The No Confidence Motion and the vote on the Delhi services legislation also ended up becoming mechanisms for trust-building and closer coordination between different alliance partners.
What Lies Ahead?
A great deal depends on what the Narendra Modi government does during the special session of Parliament called from 18 to 22 September.
There is already speculation on what the government could do - the runours include a Constitutional amendment for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to be held together, a legislation restoring statehood for Jammu and Kashmir, Uniform Civil Code, or celebration of the G20 summit and the Chandrayaan success.
The INDIA coalition's floor management and firepower in Parliament will be on test, as would be their ability to push their narrative ahead of that of the government.