Big Opposition meet today to chart roadmap for 2024 Lok Sabha polls
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
Patna: Top leaders of Opposition parties will meet here on Friday to chalk out a roadmap for the formation of an anti-BJP front for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.It is being hosted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of JD(U) and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav of RJD at the former's Aney Marg residence.
Sources said the meeting was being seen as a starting point for the Opposition parties to come together to take on the Narendra Modi-led BJP. Therefore, a basic outline and roadmap for Opposition unity are likely to be deliberated upon with the contentious issue of seat sharing and leadership questions to be avoided for now, they said.
According to reports, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi have left for Patna, while former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has already reached the Bihar capital.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab's Bhagwant Mann, Tamil Nadu's M K Stalin, Jharkhand's Hemant Soren, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, Maharashtra's former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, and NCP president Sharad Pawar are among the other leaders expected to attend it.
Leaders of the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML) and the National Conference will also attend the first high-level opposition meeting.
A day before the crucial deliberations, fissures in the Opposition ranks came to the fore with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sources saying the party will walk out of the meeting if the Congress does not promise its support against the Centre's ordinance on the control of administrative services in Delhi.
All eyes are on the meeting's agenda and whether the Centre's ordinance on the control of administrative services in the national capital would be a key part of the discussions as the AAP wants.
Keeping cards close to its chest, the Congress has so far kept its stand ambiguous as to whether it would support the AAP or not when the ordinance is put to test in Parliament by the BJP-led Centre.
Asked about the ordinance issue and AAP's ultimatum, Congress chief Kharge, before leaving for Patna on Friday morning, said his party would decide on it before the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
"Opposing it or proposing it does not happen outside, it happens in Parliament. Before Parliament begins, all parties decide what issues they have to work on together. They know it and even their leaders come to our all-party meetings. I don't know why is there so much publicity about it outside," Kharge said.
"About 18-20 parties decide together on what to oppose and what to accept. So instead of saying anything now, we will take a decision before Parliament begins," he said.
The Samajwadi Party is the only party from Uttar Pradesh attending the meeting with BSP supremo Mayawati not being invited and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary set to skip the huddle due to a family programme.
CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya are among the other leaders attending the meeting.
West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee, who arrived here on Thursday evening, met Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav, former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav.
Asked what will happen at tomorrow's meeting, she told reporters outside Tejashwi Yadav's residence, "I cannot say anything now. We have come here as we will fight together, one on one (against the BJP). We will fight together like a joint family," she had asserted.