Top leaders of the opposition alliance ‘India’ held an informal meeting here on Thursday evening to chalk out a concrete road map to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and discuss cooperation among constituents.
The leaders of the ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance’ (INDIA) met informally before a dinner hosted by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
It is understood that the agenda of the formal meeting to be held on Friday can be decided in this conversation.
In the meeting of ‘India’ to be held on Friday, important decisions regarding future strategy can be taken. Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said on Thursday evening that the alliance leaders will discuss the seat-sharing modalities, coordination committee and forming a common minimum program in the meeting to be held tomorrow.
He said that a similar experiment was done in 1977 as well and this is a similar effort. In 1977, the opposition parties came together to take on the Indira Gandhi-led Congress.
Before the meeting on Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised the Adani issue in a press conference in the premises of Grand Hyatt Hotel here. The meeting of the leaders of ‘India’ is being held in this hotel. Before the start of the informal meeting, Rahul Gandhi was seen interacting with Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Aditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule and party leader Jayant Patil
Uddav Thackeray and NCP President Sharad Pawar were also seen talking to each other in a light-hearted manner. Chief Ministers and senior leaders of various states have reached here to attend the meeting.
These include West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav and his father and RJD President Lalu Prasad, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, former party presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary and other leaders also reached Mumbai on Thursday.
A coordination committee can be announced in the ‘India’ meeting and the logo of the alliance can be released.
Ahead of the meeting on Wednesday, the alliance had expressed confidence that it would provide a strong alternative for political change in the country and that it has many faces for the post of Prime Minister, while the BJP has ‘only one face’.
The opposition alliance had claimed that it has expanded by including two more regional parties, taking the number of its constituent parties to 28. Maharashtra’s leftist party ‘Peasants and Workers Party of India’ (PWP) and another regional party have joined the alliance. The name of this team has not been clarified yet.
Sources said that three parties from the North East region – Assam Jatiya Parishad, Rajor Dal and Anchalik Gana Manch-Bhuiyan have appealed to join the alliance and the meeting discussed the expansion of the alliance and the inclusion of these parties.
This is the third meeting of the opposition alliance. The first meeting was held in Patna in June, while the second meeting was held in Bengaluru in July, where it was named ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.
The alliance may announce a coordination committee, which may have 11 members from major opposition parties. A logo of the alliance will also be released.
A discussion can also be held in the meeting whether its coordinator should be made or not. There can also be talk of drafting a minimum program of the alliance, making a joint plan for agitation across the country and forming some sub-groups to discuss seat-sharing.
Leaders of various constituents of ‘India’ reached the venue today and expressed confidence that the opposition parties would together fight the NDA in 2024.
Many leaders said that they have come together to save the Constitution and democracy in the country and will chalk out a common program in preparation to take on the ruling BJP.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad said that the need of the hour is to strengthen the unity and sovereignty of the country and save the Constitution and democracy.
The RJD leader said, ‘Modi government has failed to pay attention to the issues of poverty, unemployment and farmers’ welfare. In the ‘India’ meeting, we will work on preparing a common programme. Tejashwi, son of Lalu Prasad and deputy chief minister of Bihar, said the ‘grand alliance’ came to power in his state in August last year and thereafter Lalu Prasad and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar brought together all like-minded parties to form a larger opposition platform.
He said, ‘After a year, we are meeting in Mumbai for the third meeting of the opposition alliance ‘India’. Yadav said that the public wants a proper alternative and ‘India’ is giving them this opportunity.
He said that the public will give a befitting reply to those ‘who divide the society’. The RJD leader said, ‘If we do not live up to the expectations of the public, they will not forgive us.’ People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti said that youth are the strength of this country.
He said, ‘From Jawaharlal Nehru to Manmohan Singh, leaders have worked to give direction to the youth and established institutions like JNU, IIM and ISRO’.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Raghav Chadha claimed that the BJP is scared of ‘India’. He said, ‘They hate the word India and are even linking its name to a terrorist organization. It is not only hatred, but also the fear of what will happen if the alliance succeeds. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aditya Thackeray said that the leaders of the opposition alliance have come together to save democracy and the Constitution.
Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Jha said that the ‘India’ alliance is to unite the country. He said, ‘Many things have been broken in this country, dreams have been shattered. This alliance is to reconcile them, to heal the injury of this country. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that the Prime Minister and the BJP are completely horrified by the response of the public to ‘India’. He said that a fight has to be fought to save the Constitution and protect the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
RLD president Jayant Chowdhary said, “The country needs a collective leadership that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the youth and all sections of the society.” We need a government that is sensitive to its constitutional obligations.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has formed several committees to plan various aspects of the ‘India’ meeting. This is the first meeting of ‘India’ which is being held in a state where not a single constituent of this alliance is in power.