The PM Narendra Modi had given a call – ‘congress mukt bharat’ – almost 4 years ago. That could not materialise somehow.
Today top leaders of over a dozen opposition parties including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress met in New Delhi on Monday as part of attempts to forge a united front to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Their counter is clear – ‘bjp mukt bharat.’
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party skipped the meeting held on the eve of the winter session of Parliament starting on Tuesday.
The meeting held in Parliament annexe also comes a day ahead of the results of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram assembly polls.
The Opposition meeting was coordinated by Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu and a number of opposition leaders were invited.
It was preceded by parleys among leaders of opposition parties with Naidu meeting West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M K Stalin holding talks with Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Besides Banerjee, Kejriwal and Stalin, the meeting was attended among others by former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, also a Janata Dal-Secular leader, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference supremo Farooq Abdullah.
The others who took part were Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leaders Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Babulal Marandi.
Top Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot were also present.
Sources said the main agenda of the meeting is to chart the future course of action for forging opposition unity and a front of non-BJP parties to take on the BJP.
They said the opposition parties are also expected to chalk out their strategy to corner the government in Parliament on Tuesday on issues like the Rafale jet deal, farmers distress and communal polarisation in the wake of growing calls for Ram temple construction.
The BJP dubbed the opposition meet as a ‘photo opportunity’ with its spokesperson Sambit Patra alleging it is a meeting of the ‘corrupt’ to ‘save themselves’.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya took a dim view of the meeting and said Sunday the opposition parties should first declare a prime ministerial candidate before thinking of ousting the Modi government.
Earlier, the meeting was planned for November 22, but had to be deferred because of the Assembly polls in five states.