IT WAS supposed to be a grand show of Opposition unity on the eve of results of the five state elections and Parliament’s Winter Session. But the absence of the SP and BSP, the main players in Uttar Pradesh and part of such groupings in the past, was a dampener at the Opposition meeting Monday. On the other hand, the entry of the AAP and TDP enthused the Opposition camp.
However, the parties differed on issuing a joint statement. While CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury made it clear that he cannot sign a joint statement with TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal expressed similar views regarding the Congress. However, the Congress circulated a document, which they called a joint statement, but without the signature of any of the leaders.
At the meeting, which was attended by 21 parties, the leaders emphasised the need to work more closely and suggested that a “platform” be put in place for this purpose. While a few spoke about the formation of a national alliance against the BJP, leaders of all the mainstream parties stressed on state-level seat-sharing.
Banerjee and DMK leader M K Stalin, according to sources, argued that regional parties should be given the respect which is due to them — a signal that building an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will not be an easy task.
The parties, for the first time, announced that they would “place before the people” a comprehensive programme of work, anchored in complete transparency and accountability, in the next few months.
But the absence of the SP and BSP was a cause for concern.
“This is a process, and you can see this process is bringing everybody together, and this proves that it is going to be carried out in an open, friendly, respectful manner. The voices in this room are the voices of Opposition in this country, and we respect every single one of them, regardless of how big or how small they are… The goal of everybody is to defeat the BJP and protect India’s Constitution and our institutions,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said after the meeting when asked about the absence of the SP and BSP.
Naidu said the meeting was an anti-BJP platform. “Two-three parties are outside. We will pursue them,” he said.
The Congress, Left, NCP, DMK, TMC, TDP, JD(S), RJD, JMM, RLD and AAP were among those present at the meeting.