BENGALURU: The second and concluding day of the opposition unity meeting in Bengaluru is set to begin here on Tuesday, with 26 like-minded parties closing ranks with a common aim of taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, will be holding a meeting of 38 parties of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the national capital on Tuesday. The NDA meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting of the NDA is being organised to mark the completion of 9 years of the central government under PM Modi.
Meanwhile, the first day of the Opposition party’s meeting started with the dinner meeting hosted by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. After the dinner Congress leader BK Hariprasad said that the meeting started with a good signal and it would be the end of BJP in 2024. On being asked about the NDA meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi, he said, “That would be National Disaster Alliance”.
Earlier, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav hoped that the people of the country would hand the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a massive defeat in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “…2/3rd of the population is going to defeat BJP. I hope that the people of the country will give BJP a massive defeat…I am receiving inputs from all corners of the country that the BJP will be wiped out…,” SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said ahead of the Opposition meeting.
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Meanwhile, the draft agenda of the joint opposition meeting set up a subcommittee for drafting the common minimum programme and communications points for the alliance for the 2024 general elections for chalking out the joint programme of parties, which includes rallies, conventions and agitation. They plan to discuss the process for deciding seat sharing on a state-to-state basis and the name for the alliance is also on the table. The opposition parties may also discuss the issue of EVM and suggest reforms to the Election Commission. The opposition leaders also set up a common secretariat for the proposed alliance.
Moreover, several committees are expected to be formed which will hold meetings to deliberate on various issues pertaining to the alliance. Various groups and sub-groups may also be formed. In this meeting, a convenor may be appointed and groups formed to decide on various issues apart from deciding on a common minimum programme. Sources said Congress is keen that the chairperson should be from the party as it is the largest party in the grouping. However, the party may not be not adamant on the matter and would be willing to go by the combined decision of opposition parties, sources said.
They said no one has any objection to the name of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. She is also not a contender for the post of Prime Minister and is attending the two-day opposition meeting. The sources said that opposition parties are keen not to make the 2024 Lok Sabha polls a battle between “a leader vs Modi” but to keep the focus on issues and make it a “Modi vs people” battle.
They said that some parties had proposed making Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar the convenor of the grouping in the meeting of opposition parties held in Patna last month and if there is a unanimity on the matter, the Congress would go along. The sources said there is a proposal to make two-three subgroups or a coordination committee.
There is a suggestion that a group should be formed to decide on issues to be raised collectively against the Narendra Modi government. Any such group may also be entrusted with deciding the issues on which to hold agitations against the government and to stay away from issues that could help the BJP by causing “polarization”.
Sources said there is a proposal to form a group to decide on seat allocation in states. They said that since leaders of 26 opposition parties cannot hold meetings in a short period, there is a proposal to form a group for coordination. “There is also a proposal to formulate a common minimum programme,” a source said. They said all issues will be discussed in the meeting and decision t taken on those on which there is an agreement.
The issues on which there is no agreement will be discussed further, they said. Congress general secretary KC Venugopal lashed out at the BJP-led government and said the opposition parties are all united by a common purpose – to protect democracy in this country, to ensure the Constitutional rights and the independence of our institutions.
“These all are under attack by the present regime of the BJP Govt. They wanted to silence the Opposition’s voice. They are misusing agencies to suppress the voice of the Opposition. The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from the Parliament is one of the biggest examples of that. The incident happening in Maharashtra is also an example,” he said.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said that opposition leaders will hold discussions on many issues including EVM machines during the second joint opposition meeting in Bengaluru. “Agenda of today’s meeting is to be one. Discussion will be held on many issues including EVM machines, Lok Sabha seat sharing, what will be the name of the front,” he said.
Moreover, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took a swipe at BJP over the NDA meeting scheduled for Tuesday and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “suddenly thought of NDA” after the meeting of opposition parties in Patna last month. Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference here that efforts are being made to infuse “new life” in BJP-led National Democratic Alliance after the success of the opposition conclave in Patna.
“PM and BJP are baffled. After the Patna meeting, the PM suddenly thought of NDA. Attempts are being made to breathe new life into NDA. Suddenly, it was reported that the NDA meeting has been called for tomorrow. This is a result of the meeting in Patna,” he said. Chief Minister MK Stalin said that the Opposition parties have united to “defeat” the ruling BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections while terming the Enforcement Directorate raids at the residence of State Minister K Ponmudi as “diversionary tactics” coming ahead of the second unity Opposition meeting.
Speaking to reporters at the Chennai airport before flying to Bengaluru to attend the Opposition meeting, CM Stalin said,” “All Opposition parties have united to defeat the BJP-led Central government. We took the decision in Bihar to convene the second meeting in Karnataka today and tomorrow”. “Opposition unity which started in Bihar last month will continue during the second meeting in Bengaluru,” CM Stalin added.
On being asked about the ED raids at the residence of State higher Education Minister K Ponmudi, Stalin said, “This was a false case initiated by the then Jayalalithaa Government against him thirteen years ago. The ED raids reflect the BJP’s frustration.” “The raid is a diversionary tactic in the light of the Opposition meeting,” he added.
Aam Admi Party (AAP) MP Raghav Chaddha said that the coming together of like-minded opposition parties is giving “sleepless nights” to the Bharatiya Janata Party. He also claimed that the saffron party will not return to power at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The AAP leader said that “The alliance of like-minded opposition parties is giving sleepless nights to the ruling BJP. The coming together of leaders of non-BJP parties have made them to live in fear”, adding, “The agenda of the meeting will be discussed during the meeting in Bengaluru”.
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko said he hopes that the Modi government will lose the next elections as he arrived in Bengaluru to attend the two-day joint opposition meeting. “This is a very important meeting, it will bring a change in Indian politics…I hope that Modi govt will lose”, Vaiko said. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said that something more “substantive” will be done in the opposition meeting being held in Karnataka’s Bengaluru.
“This is only the second meeting. Obviously, I hope that something more substantive will be done in this meeting because the last meeting was just the beginning. We wanted to see how many parties are attending, and what their individual points of view are. This is the second in the series of meetings, we need to have something more substantive,” he said while talking to the reporters. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and said that after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, the economic condition of the country was destroyed.
“BJP is the party which destroyed the economy of the country, not Opposition parties. After Narendra Modi became PM, the economic condition of the country was destroyed, prices were raised, farmers poor are in distressed condition and because of communal issues people are living in scary situations,” he said. Siddaramaiah also hoped that the people of the country would give BJP a massive defeat in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“BJP and PM Modi will not get a mandate this time, they will lose this time,” he said. Karnataka CM also asserted that the influence of PM Narendra Modi is waning and that the decline of the BJP has initiated in Karnataka. “Didn’t we defeat Modi in Karnataka, BJP’s loss in all the places, where Modi campaigned? During the Karnataka assembly elections, PM Narendra Modi visited the state 28 times. The decline of the BJP has begun in Karnataka. We’ll win the majority of seats in Lok Sabha 2024 polls, and BJP and NDA alliance parties will lose.”
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, party MP TR Baalu, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, party leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Raghav Chadha, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko and others leader arrived in Bengaluru to attend the meeting.
Earlier, hitting out at United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Opposition party alliance, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president JP Nadda on Monday termed it as “Bhanumati ka Kunba”. “UPA and Opposition parties alliance is Bhanumati ka Kunbha’s, ‘Kahi ki Eet, Kahi Ka Roda, Bhanumati ne Kunba Joda (bringing together elements that don’t go with each other),” JP Nadda said addressing a press conference in the national capital.
He further said it is an alliance based on selfish interests and is only for photo opportunities. “UPA neither has a leader nor does it has the power to take decisions. It is an alliance based on selfish interests and is only for photo opportunities. It is 10 years of corrupt governance and non-governance of the UPA government,” the BJP chief said.
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