Need to come together for 2024: Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Opposition leaders

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August 21, 2021 6:30 AM

At a meeting of 19 Opposition parties, including Congress, Gandhi said all parties have some “compulsions”, but reminded them that the time has come to rise above them.

Gandhi said the monsoon session of Parliament saw “determined unity” by all Opposition parties. The parties, she said, functioned in a coordinated manner with daily discussions among the floor leaders. (ANI Image)Gandhi said the monsoon session of Parliament saw “determined unity” by all Opposition parties. The parties, she said, functioned in a coordinated manner with daily discussions among the floor leaders. (ANI Image)

Speaking for the first time on the need for Opposition parties to come together ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday told top Opposition leaders that there is “simply no alternative” before them but to work “cohesively together”.

At a meeting of 19 Opposition parties, including Congress, Gandhi said all parties have some “compulsions”, but reminded them that the time has come to rise above them.

The meeting was attended among others by Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JMM chief and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah.

Senior Congress leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and A K Antony, too attended the meeting, as did RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav and representatives of Assam’s AIUDF, Tamil Nadu’s Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, JD(S), RSP, Kerala Congress (M) and the IUML.

Gandhi said the monsoon session of Parliament saw “determined unity” by all Opposition parties. The parties, she said, functioned in a coordinated manner with daily discussions among the floor leaders. “I am confident that this unity will be sustained in future sessions of Parliament as well. But the larger political battle has to be fought outside it,” she said.

“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,” she said.

The compulsions, in fact, were clearly visible. With assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh just months away, both the Samajwadi Party and the BSP did not attend the meeting. The AAP, which is one of the principal opponents of the Congress in Punjab where assembly elections are due early next year, was not invited to the virtual meet.

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