A day before the winter session of Parliament begins, all opposition parties on Monday came together for a crucial meeting in the national capital. The meeting, however, had no attendance from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.
Talking to media after the meeting concluded, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said there is a consensus among opposition parties that the assault on institutions such as the RBI must be stopped. “This is a process and it is bringing together everybody. I said in the room that voices in this room are voices of the opposition in the country; our goal is to defeat BJP, protect India’s constitution and our institutions,” said Gandhi.
Interestingly, the ending of the opposition leaders meeting coincided with the resignation of RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who attended the meeting, hit out at the Modi government over Patel’s resignation, saying it was a matter of “great shock”. “Institutions, from the CBI to the RBI, have become total disasters. This has never happened before. It is a matter of great shock. We must protest,” Banerjee said.
She proposed that the meeting should continue on Tuesday and leaders of opposition parties should also meet President Ram Nath Kovind over Patel’s resignation. “The BJP is behaving like a dictator. There should be a campaign against this rule. Everybody has agreed to that,” she said.
“Financial stability is not there… financial emergency has started,” she alleged.
The meeting, held in Parliament annexe, came a day ahead of the results of the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram Assembly polls as well as the winter session of Parliament.
The opposition meeting was coordinated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu and a number of opposition leaders were invited.
Besides Banerjee and Gandhi, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, also a Janata Dal (Secular) leader, Sonia Gandhi, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, DMK chief M K Stalin, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference supremo Farooq Abdullah.
The others who took part were Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leaders Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s (JVM) Babulal Marandi.
Here is the joint statement released by the 21 opposition parties
We, the leaders of secular parties, met this afternoon in New Delhi.
We reaffirmed our strong and steadfast resolve to confront and defeat the forces that are subverting our Constitution and making a mockery of our democracy.
India needs a government that cares for working class, kisans and khet mazdoors and is always sensitive to the enormous pain that they and their families are going through.
India needs a government that makes education accessible and affordable to all sections of the people and fulfills the aspirations of youth for decent and secure jobs that provide fair wages to the employed.
India needs a government that empowers the weaker sections of society—scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs, women and minorities—to lead a life of complete security and dignity.
India needs a truthful government that does not propagate falsehoods and does not make bogus claims, that steadfastly follows Constitutional values and conventions in letter and spirit, that respects the autonomy of institutions, and that will banish the current all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation. A case in point is the sinister attack on autonomy of Reserve Bank of India by Modi government that has led to the unceremonious exit of RBI Governor today. We deprecate the systematic attack by the government on India’s Economy through a select band of government nominees arbitrarily dictating the Monitory Policies and compromising RBI’s institutional integrity.
India needs a government that is committed to faster economic growth which is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable and growth that does not sharpen inequalities among people and among states. India needs a government that is not mired in rank corruption and loot of people’s resources, a government which does not attack the entire Banking System through insurmountable NPA’s benefitting crony capitalists. India needs a government that does not put a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams like Rafale; nor becomes an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters.
India needs a government where Economic Growth focuses on addressing the concerns of small traders, shopkeepers and micro, small and medium enterprises that have been devastated by demonetisation and the ill-planned implementation of GST. We need a government where harassment of businessmen and industrialists would end and the spirit of enterprise must be allowed full freedom.
India needs a government that deals decisively with the problems of the present and the challenges of the future instead of a government that is only interested in re-imagining the past, re-writing and distorting history and re-naming cities and streets. India needs a government that listens to the people and not simply lectures to them.
India needs a government, for which Democracy is the magna carta beyond the victories and losses of electoral battles. Innumerable deficiencies, failures and plausible doubts on the neutral functionality of EVM’s per se have raised a question on the neutrality of poll process itself. It is our firm belief that this needs to be redressed without question and without delay.
In the course of the next few months we will place before the people of the country, a comprehensive programme of work anchored in complete transparency and accountability.
We call upon all liberal, progressive and secular forces to join us in our battle to save the Constitution, to protect parliamentary democracy, to preserve the freedom to think, speak and write as a free people, to strengthen the bonds of our unity while celebrating our diversity and to retrieve, repair and rebuild the economy. It is in the interests of safeguarding and strengthening our Constitutional Republic and People’s livelihood that this RSS/BJP government is ousted.