Opposition coalition named INDIA — Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance
Setting the tone for their 2024 Lok Sabha campaign, 26 opposition parties on Tuesday formed a coalition — Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) — to unitedly take on the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) alliance with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserting that the fight will be “between INDIA and Prime Minister Narendra Modi”. Announcing the name of the opposition bloc at a press conference here after a nearly four-hour-long meeting of the 26 parties, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “We’ll fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections unitedly and we will come out with great success.”
According to many opposition leaders, the name of the opposition front was suggested by TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and there was a lot of discussion on the full form of the term, INDIA.
Kharge said a committee of 11 members will be set up for coordination, and a convenor will be selected at the next meeting in Mumbai. The Congress president also said a secretariat will also be set up in Delhi for campaign management of the alliance and specific committees will be formed for separate issues. He said the dates for the Mumbai meeting will be announced soon. While Kharge evaded a direct reply on who would be the face of the new alliance, earlier in his opening remarks at the meeting, he said the Congress is not interested in power or the post of Prime Minister. “Our intention in this meeting is not to gain power for ourselves. It is to protect our Constitution, democracy, secularism, and social justice,” he said.
Addressing the joint press conference with other leaders, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said they have decided to prepare an action plan where they will talk about their ideology and programmes.
“The fight is against the ideology of the BJP and their thinking, they are attacking the country, unemployment is rampant, and the country’s wealth is being taken away from millions and handed over to a few of the friends of the BJP and the Prime Minister,” Gandhi said. “We are defending the Constitution, the voice of Indians, and the idea of India. You know what happens to anyone who wants to fight the idea of India… This is a fight between INDIA and the BJP, it is a fight between INDIA and Narendra Modi,” the former Congress chief said.
Kharge said the second meeting of the opposition bloc after the Patna conclave was a very important one for saving democracy and the Constitution in the interest of the country’s people. “Our alliance will be called Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA),” Kharge said. He also said that “there are some differences between us but we have put that behind… We are together in the interest of the country…We’ll fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections unitedly and we will come out with great success”.
Kharge also launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying he is now trying to bring together parties that had splintered and this shows that “he is afraid of opposition parties”. His remarks came just ahead of a meeting of 38 members of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance), including some new entrants.
Taking a swipe at Modi, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said some people say “We are fighting for family”, they should know that “the country is our family and we are fighting for our country”. One person and one party is not the country, he said. In her remarks at the presser, Mamata Banerjee, while acknowledging all leaders present, referred to Rahul Gandhi as “our favourite”. Referring to the name of the alliance adopted, Banerjee said, “BJP, can you challenge INDIA? We love our motherland, we are the patriotic people of the country, we are for farmers, Dalits, we are for the country, for the world.”
In his remarks at the presser, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal said Prime Minister Modi got the opportunity to do a lot for the country in nine years, but no development has happened in any sector. While most leaders, including Sharad Pawar, were present at the presser, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav had left before the press conference as they had to catch a flight.
The 26 opposition parties are –the Congress, TMC, DMK, AAP, JD(U), RJD, JMM, NCP (Sharad Pawar), Shiv Sena (UBT), SP, NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPI, RLD, MDMK, Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi (KMDK), VCK, RSP, CPI-ML (Liberation), Forward Bloc, IUML, Kerala Congress (Joseph), Kerala Congress (Mani), Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK).
The 26 parties have a combined strength of about 150 seats in Lok Sabha, as against over 330 of the NDA, and are in power individually or in alliance in Delhi and 10 states. Top opposition leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav along with presidents and leaders of several parties attended the meeting. The leaders also held informal deliberations at a dinner meeting on Monday.
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