Leaders of 19 political parties meet virtually to boost Opposition unity and evolve a common strategy against the NDA Government
CONGRESS Interim President Sonia Gandhi on Friday urged Opposition party leaders to work together and plan systematically for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, saying, the goal is to give the country a Government that believes in the principles of the Constitution. Addressing a virtual meeting of various Opposition parties, she said that this is a challenge but expressed hope that “together we can” do it. “Despite our political compulsions, the time has come when interests of our nation demand that we rise above them,” Gandhi said.
Leaders of 19 political parties participated in the virtual meeting convened by Gandhi, amid efforts to boost Opposition unity and evolve a common strategy against the NDA Government. “Of course, the ultimate goal is the 2024 Lok Sabha elections for which we have to begin to plan systematically with the single-minded objective of giving to our country a Government that believes in the values of the freedom movement and in the principles and provisions of our Constitution,” she said.
“This is a challenge, but together we can and must rise to it because there is simply no alternative to working cohesively together. We all have our compulsions, but clearly, a time has come when the interests of our nation demand that we rise above them,” Gandhi said.
Among those who participated in the meeting were NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her counterparts from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, Uddhav Thackeray and MK Stalin. Parties such as TMC, NCP, DMK, Shiv Sena, JMM, CPI, CPI(M), NC, RJD, AIUDF, VCK, Loktantrik Janata Dal, JD(S), RLD, RSP, Kerala Congress (Mani), PDP and IUML took part in the meeting. Leaders of AAP, BSP and SP were not present at the meeting. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the Opposition parties said that they will jointly organise protests all over the country from September 20-30.
“The forms of these public protest actions will be decided by the respective State units of our parties, depending on the concrete conditions of the COVID regulations and protocols existing in the states. These forms, amongst others, may include dharnas, protest demonstrations, hartals etc.
“We, the leaders of 19 Opposition parties, call upon the people of India to rise to the occasion to defend our secular, democratic, republican order with all our might. Save India today, so that we can change it for a better tomorrow,” they added.
Believers in democracy must unite: Pawar
THOSE who believe in democracy and secularism must come together and draw up a “time-bound action programme”, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said after taking part in a virtual meeting of Opposition leaders convened by Sonia Gandhi on Friday. He appreciated the initiative to organise a meeting of like-minded parties in view of the present circumstances in the country, the former Union Minister said on Twitter.
“The current scenario in India appears very gloomy. Farmers are protesting for many months, it’s an anguishing picture for a democratic country like India. The nation is facing many issues like inflation, economic slowdown, COVID mitigation, unemployment, border disputes, issue of the minority communities etc,” he tweeted. The present Government has failed to address these issues, he said. “Those who believe in democracy and secularism, those who like to work together for saving the democratic principles and ethos of our country must come together,” Pawar said.
Mamata for core group of Oppn leaders to fight BJP
WEST Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday proposed to form a core group of Opposition leaders to decide on joint movements against the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The TMC supremo asked Opposition leaders to keep aside differences and put up a united fight against the BJP. “Let us forget who is the leader, let us keep our personal interests aside,” a senior TMC leader quoted her as saying at the meeting.
Banerjee also raised the issue of how “impartial institutions like the NHRC has been misused by the Central Government to malign Opposition-ruled State Governments”. She also raised the farmers’ issue and torture allegedly unleashed by the Centre against States ruled by Opposition parties, another TMC leader said.