Opposition leaders, in their debut Coordination committee meet held at Sharad Pawar’s residence here, stressed on the need for unity of I.N.D.I.A bloc partners. The committee, which constitutes 14 members, further decided to cut off attending the programs of journalists who the Opposition leaders believe have been “reporting unjustly and disturbing the country’s harmony and unity”.
To make the alliance wider and more acceptable, sources said the bloc is on the hunt to get the remaining main political parties in their fold who can play a role of key players in their respective states. Alliance leaders believe that the Telugu Desam Party (in Andhra Pradesh) and Bahujan Samaj Party (UP) may jump into the alliance before the general elections. It is even believed that Mayawati could come onboard just some months before the general elections, as Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad’s demand of two Lok Sabha seats has been put on hold in Uttar Pradesh. A party insider said, “If Mayawati comes in the fold of the Opposition alliance, Azad may not be a part of the alliance.” The focus of the bloc, as decided in the meeting, would be on staying together, and not bickering in public. A political analyst said, “There are regional interests the regional parties have and if they find their political standing in their region transgressed, they will retort. So, the focus they are trying to have on is unity. And they are also in pursuit to contain dissent which is expected to crop up before every major decision. Thereby, if they are able to work without conflict, it will build the much-needed cohesive narrative that the bloc needs to counter the juggernaut of BJP. It’s all about the major players in the alliance like TMC, SP, AAP and others; if they stick together, all other partners will follow their lead.”
Moreover, the bloc has also decided to boycott more than a dozen journalists who they believe support the saffron camp and have been “lopsided” in their journalistic duties. The programs led by Aman Chopra, Prachi Parashar, Rubika Liaquat, Chitra Tripathi, Sudhir Chaudhary, Amish Devgan, Arnab Goswami, Navika Kumar, Anand Narasimhan, Gaurav Sawant, Aditi Tyagi, Sushant Sinha, Ashok Srivastava and Shiv Aroor will not be receiving any Congress leaders officially. A party insider said, “Spokespersons will not be sent to the programs of these anchors.” Another political analyst said, “It is an important step from the Opposition bloc as it is the first time they will be taking a stand against the journalists who they think are spreading misinformation against them. It will send a very positive message in their cadres. For, it shows that the Opposition is strong enough to take hard decisions. It could also be because the Congress thinks they have gained a lot from the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the perception that percolates from the mainstream media will not impact their growth trajectory. It simply means that they may compensate it by choosing another route of organic public outreach.”
On I.N.D.I.A bloc’s Coordination Committee meeting, Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal said, “The Coordination Committee has decided to start the process for determining seat-sharing. It was decided that member parties would hold talks and decide at the earliest. The first public meeting of the alliance will be held in Bhopal in the first week of October on issues of rising prices, unemployment and corruption of the BJP government.”