Six opposition leaders met on Wednesday evening at Sharad Pawar's residence to discuss the future of proposed grand alliance in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls.
Top leaders of six opposition parties including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence on Wednesday late evening to discuss the future strategy of the proposed grand alliance to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha. All the leaders who attended the meet favoured a pre-poll alliance at the national level and a common minimum programme.
The meeting took place hours after the 16th Lok Sabha met for the last time and opposition leaders gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to lend support to Aam Aadmi Party’s ‘Remove Dictatorship, Save Democracy’ rally.
According to The Indian Express, Mamata Banerjee favoured a pre-poll alliance of the anti-BJP parties. She said that parties expect Rahul Gandhi to prepare a draft of the CMP and share it with the opposition leaders for their next meeting later this month.
“We need to coordinate. It is clear that our slogan — Sabko ek rakho, desh ko bachao; Save India from disaster, from the hands of BJP, Modi and Amit Shah, resonates… Modi hatao, desh bachao… We will go in for a pre-poll alliance so that it doesn’t become a post-poll irritant… We are in agreement on the idea of a common minimum agenda/programme. Rahul will share a draft with us,” she told reporters after the meeting.
However, the absence of other parties like Samajwadi Party, BSP, RJD, Left and other regional players underlined the challenges the united opposition faces in its bid to widen its base.
Uttar Pradesh’s two key players – SP and BSP have already declared that they will contest the election together. Also at Kejriwal’s rally, the difference between Left and Mamata grabbed media attention when the latter refrained from sharing the stage with Left leaders.
The bid to prepare a common minimum programme is seen as an attempt to counter BJP’s narrative that opposition leaders are forming an alliance to serve their self-interest.
Citing a top leader who was present in the meeting, the IE report said that differences at state level are compulsion but at the national level, parties should bury their difference and come together to give a tough fight to the BJP.
“We may have differences at state level, that is our local political compulsion. But national compulsions and the democratic compulsion demands a national alliance,” the leader said. Rahul Gandhi said that all opposition leaders on the same page and agreed to start a conversation about CMP.
“The principal target for all of us is to fight the assault on Indian institutions being carried out by Narendra Modi, by the BJP and the RSS. We have all agreed that we are going to start a conversation about a common minimum programme, we are going to start putting together the pieces and that discussion is now beginning. We have a commitment that we are all going to work together to defeat the BJP,” the Congress president said.
Although Wednesday’s meeting was hosted Pawar, it is believed that the idea was initiated by TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu who has been making attempts to forge a grand alliance of opposition parties against the BJP.