The Congress on Monday claimed credit for forcing the Centre to put on hold its decision to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), hours after it rallied a group of 13 Opposition parties to mount a joint offensive against the government over its management of the economy.
“A forceful opposition by Congress and Rahul Gandhi has ensured that the BJP government backed down from bartering the interests of farmers, dairy producers, fishermen, small and medium businesses at the altar of political expediency. A victory for all fighting for protecting national interests,” Congress communications department head Randeep Surjewala said.
“With rampant unemployment, a sinking economy and deep agrarian crisis emanating from utter mismanagement of economy by (the) BJP government, signing RCEP would have been catastrophic,” he said.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who was to chair the meeting, stayed away, and it was left to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior party leader Ahmed Patel to steer the discussions.
Opposition leaders said the Congress had informed them that Sonia would chair the meeting. After over 90 minutes of discussion, it was decided that the Opposition will hold a joint protest and raise issues such as economic slowdown, agrarian distress and unemployment in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.
The meeting was attended by RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, RJD’s Manoj Jha, RLD’s Ajit Singh, LJD’s Sharad Yadav and JD(S)’s D Kupendra Reddy, besides Jose K Mani of Kerala Congress (M) and P K Kunhalikutty of Indian Union Muslim League, among others.