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Monday, July 16, 2018

NDA dinner: Widening alliance, winning big in 2019 – here’s what happened

NDA alliance resolves to fight 2019 under leadership of Narendra Modi - here's what happened at the NDA dinner meeting last night.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 11, 2017 12:42:55 pm
PM Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal at the dinner meeting of the NDA alliance in New Delhi. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

Riding high on what one could well call Modi wave 2.0, leaders of the NDA allies met at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in the national capital with a clear target in mind – winning big in 2019. The alliance – consisting 32 political parties – reportedly reviewed the Union government’s policies over the last three years as well as the recently concluded Assembly elections, where the BJP came to power in four of the five states.

The dinner meeting, that began a little before 8 pm, started with an address by BJP president Amit Shah and concluded with an address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All the allies had their turn to speak at the session. This is the first of this scale which has seen state members of the NDA also attend the meeting.

The NDA allies also passed a resolution endorsing the government’s policies as well as resolving to widen the NDA and bring in more allies, a move that could well rattle the Opposition that is still unable to take on the government unitedly, on key issues. PDP leader and Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, however, could not make it to the meeting, and was represented by a party leader.

Speaking to the media, Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said: “The NDA allies passed a resolution to work together to win a second term under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Modi in 2019.”

Sena-BJP ties

Also at the meeting was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray who had a closed door meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah. The meeting comes in the wake of Sena’s less than impressive performance in the Maharashtra municipal elections as well as the political bickering between the Sena and the Maharashtra BJP. The meeting, reports say, was to iron out differences between the two allies in the hope that they will work together to complete the Fadnavis government term in an alliance as well as with a focus on 2019.

BJP president Amit Shah, LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan and Ananth Kumar at a dinner meeting of the NDA alliance in New Delhi. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

Presidential polls?

With President Pranab Mukherjee’s term coming to an end in July, there has been much talk about who would replace him. While alliance leaders maintain that the discussion did not come up during the dinner meeting, it’s very unlikely that the leaders of these parties did not have a conversation on who would reside in Rashtrapati Bhavan come July. The Shiv Sena, whose member had said that it would back RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as President, has said it would go with the BJP’s decision.

The BJP, however, maintains that it would look for a consensus candidate – one that is acceptable to most of the political parties if not all.

NDA alliance leaders at the dinner hosted in the national capital. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

Assembly elections to Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh

Monday’s dinner meeting will also push a clear message that the NDA is ready to aggressively push forward the Centre’s agenda in the states going to polls later this year. With a massive victory in Uttar Pradesh, the confidence in the NDA will only help it counter any campaign by the Opposition. The BJP is currently in power in Gujarat, where there is political turmoil with the AAP already indicating that it would begin campaigning soon. The Patidar agitation is also likely to be a key area where the BJP will have to tread carefully. In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP is hoping to wrest power from the Congress. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is already facing a tough time with allegations of disproportionate assets being heard in a Delhi court.

BJP chief Amit Shah addressing the NDA dinner. Image: Twitter/@AmitShah

Sonia Gandhi to host dinner

Interestingly, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will soon hold her annual dinner party for all Congress Lok Sabha and Rajya MPs as well as party general secretaries. This year’s meeting assumes significance as she has taken a backseat in key decision making leaving much to her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Will there be a key indication at the dinner? We’ll have to wait and watch.


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