Congress Responds To AAP Threat Ahead Of Big Opposition Huddle

Patna Opposition Meeting: Shiv Sena (UBT) in Patna said on Friday that if democracy is to survive after 2024, then political parties have to show a big heart in the national interest.

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Today, 16 opposition parties are meeting in Patna to map out a skeletal roadmap for the ambitious anti-BJP campaign ahead of the 2024 elections. A joint press conference will follow the meeting, which is scheduled from 11 am to 3:30 pm.

At the airport, Nitish Kumar, the Bihar Chief Minister and president of the Janata Dal (United) along with his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, met Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal, and Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president.

The Aam Aadmi Party, determined to get all Opposition parties on board against the Centre’s ordinance that undermines its hold over the national capital’s bureaucracy, has threatened to derail the big meeting if the Congress does not commit to joining forces in defeating the Ordinance once it’s tabled in Parliament. Despite Mallikarjun Kharge’s insistence that such matters are decided ahead of Parliament sessions, some party leaders have called it a ‘pressure tactic’.

The process of opposing or proposing it does not take place outside of Parliament. It is before Parliament begins that all parties decide what issues they need to work on together. They know that, and their leaders attend our all-party meetings. “I don’t understand why it gets so much publicity outside,” Mr Kharge said.

Among the notable absentees are Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, who tweeted she’d skip the event, and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Jayant Chaudhary, who said he has to attend a “pre-decided family programme”. Chaudhary, however, hopes the meeting will mark an “important milestone in the unity of the opposition”.

Despite the fact that a ‘common minimum program’ is unlikely to be finalized in the first meeting, social justice issues, the misuse of investigating agencies by the Centre, the violence in Manipur, and the wrestlers’ protest are likely to be discussed.

The joint Opposition will not discuss a single face against the BJP. Seat sharing for the “one seat, one candidate” formula floated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may be discussed.

As a result of regional rivalries, several parties averse to the Congress will share the stage for the first time. Nitish Kumar, who was tasked with bringing these parties together, met with leaders of AAP, Trinamool Congress, and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) to convince them to join. Despite being warm to the idea of a united opposition, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was not invited because his party would be equally distanced from the BJP and Congress.

To instill confidence among voters, political parties will have to show a big heart in national interest if democracy is to survive after 2024. According to an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, AAP and BRS have national ambitions, but this will indirectly support Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The high-level Opposition meeting will see participation from stalwarts like Sharad Pawar from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann (AAP), MK Stalin (DMK), Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, and Maharashtra’s former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena-UBT). PDP, CPI(M), CPI(ML), and the National Conference will also be represented at the first high-level opposition meeting.

In 2019, the BJP won 303 Lok Sabha seats, 21 more than in 2014. PM Modi’s BJP won 141 seats in the Hindi heartland, which was 71% of the seats it contested, with more than 50% of the votes.

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