Opposition heavyweights from across the country have assembled in Bengaluru for a brainstorming session tomorrow to draw up a strategy for effective coordination to ensure defeat of the ruling BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
IMPORTANCE OF ALLIANCE
- To hammer importance of alliances, sources in both BJP and opposition camps cite 2004 LS poll
- It was the year when Sonia Gandhi-led Congress, with 145 LS seats — 7 more than BJP’s 138 — wrested power by stitching together UPA
Posters displaying “United We Stand” slogan, with pictures of opposition leaders, have been put up abundantly on the streets of Bengaluru to welcome the participants.
Alleging that the unity efforts had rattled the BJP, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said, “(PM) Modi had told Parliament that he alone is enough for all (anti-BJP parties). Why does he now require 29-30 parties?” Kharge, who arrived in Bengaluru with former party chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in a special flight, was referring to the meeting of NDA allies called by the BJP in New Delhi tomorrow. Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Hemant Soren (Jharkhand), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), Bhagwant Mann (Punjab), Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have also arrived in Bengaluru. A warm welcome was also accorded to other leaders, including former CMs Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), besides Sitaram Yechury (CPM), D Raja (CPI) and Jayant Chaudhary (RLD). NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who suffered a blow recently after his nephew Ajit Pawar walked away with majority of the party MLAs, will reach Bengaluru tomorrow. KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary (organisation), asserted that the opposition unity was going to be a “gamechanger”. Fifteen parties attended the first meeting of Opposition parties held in Patna last month. Tomorrow’s meet is slated to be attended by 11 more parties, taking the total to 26.
During the two-day session, opposition leaders will firm up a strategy to defeat the BJP in the General Election. They will begin work on a common minimum programme and may announce a joint agitation plan. While a dinner meeting was held on Monday, the actual brainstorming would start tomorrow morning. Reconciling political interests of traditional rivals, however, is going to be a difficult task as a statement was issued today by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury ruling out any possibility of joining hands with the Trinamool in West Bengal.Yechury, however, acknowledged the importance of preventing division in anti-BJP votes and cited the example of 2004 when the CPM helped the Congress form the UPA government after elections even though there was no pre-poll alliance between the two parties and there was a direct contest between Left and Congress candidates in a number of seats.