No consensus reached on group’s logo; 28-party grouping forms a 13-member coordination panel to chalk out a common minimum programme.
Overcoming clashing egos, the Opposition’s I.N.D.I.A bloc passed a resolution to contest the next Lok Sabha poll “together”, even as the 28-party grouping formed a 13-member coordination committee to chalk out a common minimum programme amid signs that 450 seats had been identified for fielding only one Opposition candidate against each NDA candidate in the election. While RJD leader Lalu Prasad claimed unanimity on Rahul Gandhi being the face of the bloc, there were also signs of discord at the meeting as Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed a resolution calling for a caste-based census.
The bloc’s inability to arrive at a consensus on a logo for the grouping appeared to be a cause of concern but the Congress-suggested punchline “Judega Bharat, Jeetega Bharat” was approved. Sources said some headway was also made on forming four coordination committees for holding campaign rallies and manage social media.
Rahul Gandhi claimed the “flexibility and rapport” among bloc leaders was improving with each passing day and the constituents of the grouping, which represents 60% of the country’s population, would be able to defeat the BJP.
He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that the latter wanted to make India “Congress Mukt”, but he may never succeed as even the British failed to rid the country of the Congress.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called for early preparedness to tackle a situation in which the BJP may try to introduce “One Nation, One Election” and hold early polls.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar admitted that a greater collective effort would be needed as different situations prevailed in different states. AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal described the Modi government as the most corrupt government ever.
The presence of Sonia Gandhi, apart from Rahul Gandhi and party chief Mallikajun Kharge, added to congenial environment at the event.
But there was some drama when former Congress leader Kapil Sibal unexpectedly arrived at the meeting venue. Sources said discussions under the “one seat, one candidate” plan of the I.N.D.I.A bloc on 450 seats will be held on 30 September.
Sources in JD(U) hinted that these seats are from all over the country, barring states like Kerala, Punjab and Delhi. Two of these states, Punjab and Delhi, have AAP state governments. A broad understanding has also been arrived at on the colour code for the flag representing the I.N.D.I.A bloc candidates. “The colour scheme of the Opposition bloc’s official flag would be the same as the National Flag colours, minus the Ashoka chakra,” said a leader.
“A blueprint was also finalised for holding joint political rallies in different states from this month,” said a leader from a constituent party of the Opposition bloc.
The bloc plans to corner the Narendra Modi government on issues like social justice, unemployment, inflation, caste census and the threat to the social fabric of the country, said a source.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the outcome of the bloc’s third meeting, asking that it failed to share any vision on the issue of development or betterment of the condition of women and the poor.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra took a swipe at the 28-party Opposition grouping, saying it is a coalition of “Majboori” (compulsion) not “Majbooti” (strength). “While our Chandrayaan has reached the moon, the Congress party’s missile will not be able to take off as it does not have the fuel to do so,” said Patra. Taking a dig at the bloc’s common minimum programme (CMP), Patra said their aim is using “corruption for maximum profit”.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said Uttar Pradesh with its 80 seats is going to decide the future of the nation. “Those who cheated the people will be given a befitting reply in the coming polls. Those who came to power in 2014 will be shown the door in 2024,” he said.
Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress said the coordination of the parties is going to spread further and all parties are going to find solace under the shade of its umbrella. Neither Nitish Kumar nor the Congress leaders have openly staked claim to the post of I.N.D.I.A bloc’s convenor. However, Kumar has been steering the block by playing the role of de facto convenor of the group, building bridges with other parties to come together.
“Nitish Kumar has personally spoken to Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Badal and Lok Dal leader O.P. Chautala,” said a JD(U) leader, hinting that communication has also been established with BSP supremo Mayawati who has shown little interest in joining the bloc.