‘We have decided to work together,’ says Rahul Gandhi on opposition meet; BJP leaders take a jibe

24 June, 2023 | Mohamed Punnilath

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Leaders from over 15 opposition parties come together in Patna to strategize against the BJP and plan further meetings for unity.

Leaders from more than 15 opposition parties convened in Patna on Friday for a crucial meeting aimed at forging a united front to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The meeting was chaired by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and took place at his official residence and had Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress leader) as the main speaker. The meeting saw the participation of prominent leaders, including those from the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and the Left parties.

The opposition meeting in Patna received extensive attention as it marked the first high-level gathering of non-BJP parties. Participants expressed their concern over the BJP’s alleged misuse of investigation agencies against individuals voicing disapproval or difference of opinion. Several leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, and Uddhav Thackeray, criticized the BJP for their actions.

During the meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge highlighted the need for unity and announced plans for a follow-up meeting in July in Shimla. The subsequent meeting aims to develop a balanced agenda while allowing leaders to work collectively in their respective states to counter the BJP’s influence in the 2024 elections.

Rahul Gandhi, while emphasizing the importance of shared ideologies, stated, “It is a battle of ideologies. Indeed, there will be differences amongst us, but we have decided to work together and protect the ideologies shared by us.” Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and TMC supremo, asserted that all non-BJP parties had resolved to unitedly fight against the saffron party, expressing concern about the future of elections if the BJP were to win in 2024.

Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) chief Pappu Yadav also commented on the importance of the Opposition meeting, saying that this is for the safety of not just political parties but the 140 crore people of the country.

However, opposition unity still faces challenges that need to be addressed. One key challenge involves reaching a consensus on a common prime ministerial candidate and developing a shared platform on critical issues.

While the opposition meeting drew supportive remarks from its participants, Union Minister Smriti Irani took a jibe at the gathering, suggesting that the Congress had acknowledged its inability to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also conveyed his outlook on the gathering by expressing confidence that Prime Minister Modi would secure over 300 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, dismissing the possibility of opposition unity. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis criticized the opposition parties, suggesting that their meeting aimed at safeguarding their own political dynasties rather than dislodging the current government.

The opposition meeting in Patna signifies an important stride towards opposition unity and showcases their determination to challenge the BJP in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. As further meetings and discussions unfold, the focus will be on overcoming differences and forging a cohesive strategy that reflects the collective will of the opposition parties.

The upcoming meeting scheduled in Shimla from July 10-12 holds promise as leaders work towards developing a seat-sharing strategy. The collective efforts and commitment displayed during the Patna meeting highlight the opposition’s determination to offer a formidable challenge to the BJP’s dominance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.