Pushing Opposition unity, Congress reaches out to other parties

Party calls joint press conference to attack govt on demonetisation, other issues

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Published: December 24, 2016 1:54 am
Sonia Gandhi, Punjab Congress, Punjab polls, Punjab elections, Amarinder Singh, AICC-Sonia Gandhi, India news, Indian Express Congress President Sonia Gandhi. (PTI File Photo)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has invited Opposition parties for a joint press conference, during which it is likely to launch a forceful attack on the government over issues such as demonetisation and “subversion” of institutions. Ahmed Patel, Sonia’s political secretary, called up leaders of the Left parties, JD(U), RJD, JD(S) and NCP. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also spoke to some Opposition leaders about the joint press conference, which could be organised at Delhi’s Constitution Club on December 27.

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The event will not be held at the AICC headquarters to avoid the impression of it being a “Congress event”. The joint press conference, in fact, seems to be an attempt to revive the Opposition unity which, according to some parties, took a beating after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi led a Congress team to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi hours before an Opposition delegation was to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on the demonetisation issue.

The meeting, on the last day of the winter session of Parliament, irked many Opposition parties. The SP, BSP, NCP, DMK, CPM, CPI and JD(S) boycotted the meeting with Mukherjee. The JD(U), TMC, RJD and RSP accompanied the delegation. Later, leaders from the SP and NCP slammed the Congress for meeting the PM unilaterally to raise the issue of agrarian distress.

Many Congress leaders had then privately admitted their discomfiture over the meeting with the PM at a time the Opposition was closing ranks against the government over the demonetisation issue. In fact, the development came only two days after Rahul claimed he had “information” on the “personal corruption” of Modi.

According to a leader from an Opposition party, the Congress’s initiative to hold the joint press conference is apparently aimed at “undoing the damage”, and hoped that it would bring the parties together.

Patel has already called up leaders, including CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Prem Chand Gupta, NCP’s Tariq Anwar and JD(S)’s Danish Ali. When contacted, most of these leaders confirmed to The Indian Express that the Congress leadership had reached out to them.

Danish Ali said, “JD(S) has decided in principle to send a party representative for the joint press conference on December 27, which will be addressed by Sonia Gandhi.”

Asked about the issues that could come up at the press meet, Ali said, “Obviously demonetisation has to be the main issue. The other issue could be subversion and repeated demolition of institutions by this government. We will jointly expose the government on many issues.”

Apart from demonetisation, the Congress and other parties had also criticised the move to announce Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Army chief, superseding two seniors. Opposition parties had earlier slammed the government for “taking over” some institutions.

RJD’s Prem Chand Gupta confirmed his party’s participation, while Sharad Yadav said his party would take a decision soon. Tariq Anwar said that “most probably NCP will send a representative for the event”.

CPI general secretary D Raja told The Indian Express on phone, “I am travelling to Kerala and Tamil Nadu and have not yet finalised my return to Delhi,” he said.

Yechury could not be contacted. TMC’s Derek O’ Brien said he would be busy this week due to Christmas. T Siva (DMK) said he had no idea about the event but was not sure whether the Congress had approached others in his party.

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  1. Dinesh Singh
    Dec 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm
    A selfish move by Congress...Opposition unity just for own benefits...When opportunity comes their leaders meets PM alone and not taking opposition leaders along.
    1. M
      Manmohan Singh
      Dec 24, 2016 at 1:03 pm
      In the past, some people declared India is Indira and Indira (hi) is India. Now, some a large number of people have been trying to make the same mistake.lt;br/gt;A stronger opposition is necessary for the general public.lt;br/gt;In Punjab, only when Aam Adami Party emerged, Badal Govt started some development work.lt;br/gt;Now, a memorial costing Rs.3600 Crores has been announced in the honour of Shiva Ji.lt;br/gt;This money could have been spent for the families of the farmers committing suicides in Maharashtra and elsewhere. Some money could have been spent to prevent recurring floods in Mumbai and elsewhere.lt;br/gt;Central Govt has started following policy of Badal Govt, building memorials when poor farmers have been committing suicides daily.lt;br/gt;May God bless our leaders and their followers with better and common sense !!!
      1. R
        Dec 24, 2016 at 10:19 am
        Ramaswamy speaks like Rahulswamy....no proof needed...guess anything and accuse...abuse...! Funny kind of specialists in blaming someone! Or these guys never read the news? Or simply dumb and dull headed?
        1. Dharamvir Saihgal
          Dec 23, 2016 at 10:00 pm
          Had she ever loved this country,she would never had indulged in such activities at this stage. She as well as her deputy should have stood by the present government instead,since it is precisely proceeding in the right direction.This government is a God sent opportunity to mend the wrongs done during the previous regime.All are aware as to what level her deputy has slipped down by making irrelevant,irresponsible,misleading and false statements against our worthy PM,whose integrity is beyond any doubt . Even angels may swear by his integrity and devotion towards his motherland.The opposition for the sake of opposition,must not twist the facts just to squeeze out some drink,which may be injurious to health in the long run.
          1. S
            Samar Nath
            Dec 24, 2016 at 1:14 pm
            Unless opposition parties can put aside their respective political narrow agendas and ambitions ignoring national interest they never be able to unite themselves irrespective of their united opposition of mudslinging to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and central government.
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