The Opposition Bloc INDIA will have its third meeting in Mumbai on August 31 and September 1, the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena (UBT) has announced. The party will host the meet, where the united Opposition is expected to draft its Common Minimum Programme.
There is expectation that an 11-member coordination committee will also be named, “At that meeting in Mumbai, we will decide on who the 11 will be, who the Convenor will be, etc. These are small things,” Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge had said.
The meet comes days after the Opposition’s No-Confidence Motion against the Narendra Modi government — and the plan to compel him to speak on Manipur — collapsed. The Prime Minister briefly mentioned Manipur only after a walkout by the Opposition, conducted after 90 minutes of his speech.
With that background, the Opposition seems to have its work cut out, figuring out a fail-safe roadmap for the next round of assembly elections and the general election next year.
The question of Opposition unity, too, needs to be settled in view of some comments by leaders of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, whose fragile peace with the Congress appears to be perpetually under threat.
The Shiv Sena UBT, which issued the invite, posted a teaser video on X, formerly Twitter, drawing on visuals from the earlier meetings of the new bloc, which announced its name in Bengaluru last month.
“Those who want to bring dictatorship in the country, We will be against them!” reads a rough translation of the caption.
— ShivSena – शिवसेना Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (@ShivSenaUBT_) August 28, 2023
Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, chief ministers MK Stalin, Nitish Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Hemant Soren, Mamata Banerjee and RJD chief Lalu Prasad were among those who took part in the two-day meet. Sharad Pawar, whose party underwent a split in June with the rebellion of nephew Ajit Pawar, also joined in.
Announcing the new name for the Opposition Bloc in Bengaluru, Rahul Gandhi had said: “The fight is between NDA and INDIA, Narendra Modi and INDIA, his ideology and INDIA… The fight is about two different ideas of India… The fight is for the voice of the country.”
Calling the bloc “old wine in new bottle”, the BJP had pitched “Bharat” against “INDIA”.
“Today people are seeing who all are a part of NDA. They work for the shoshit and vanchit, adivasis and peechhdas (exploited and deprived, tribals and backward communities)… It is dedicated to the people of the country,” PM Modi had said.
“Its motto is Nation First, Progress First, Empowerment of the People First… NDA is doing social justice as envisioned by Gandhi and Ambedkar,” he had added.