Last Updated: December 19, 2023, 19:36 IST
Opposition leaders during the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) meeting, in New Delhi. (PTI)
INDIA Bloc Meeting Today: The party leaders believe that the Narendra Modi government has gained attention of the women and youth voters, and hence alternative vision needs to be presented for Lok Sabha elections.
Several Opposition alliance leaders, including Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Sonia Gandhi, Nitish Kumar and MK Stalin, arrived for the fourth INDIA Alliance meeting that was held in New Delhi’s Ashoka Hotel. The focus of the meeting is to fast-track the seat-sharing talks ahead of the 2024 elections.
During the meet, West Bengal CM and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee vouched for Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
#WATCH | Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal arrives at Tamil Nadu Bhawan to meet CM MK Stalin
Apart from seat sharing, another focus was on “changing focus to other key topics”. The party leaders believe that the Narendra Modi government has gained the attention of the women and youth voters, and hence alternative vision needs to be presented for the Lok Sabha elections.
Top Points from Today’s INDIA Bloc Meet
- TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee suggested Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge’s name for the Prime Ministerial candidate of the INDIA bloc.
- Kharge on Tuesday said that he does not seek any position and that the opposition alliance must focus on winning elections first. He said that the PM face will be decided later.
- United Opposition Alliance India will kickstart the joint campaign for the 2024 General Elections on January 30.
- On the suspension of INDIA bloc MPs from the parliament, Kharge said that an all-India protest will be held on December 22.
- The opposition leaders also passed resolutions on the suspension of INDIA MPs from the parliament as well as the EVMs issues.
- In the resolution, INDIA leaders stated that the opposition has concerns about the design and operation of the EVMs and demanded Home Minister’s statement on Parliament security breach.
- The Trinamool Congress (TMC) along with many INDIA parties, set December 31, 2023, the deadline to complete all seat-sharing talks.
- Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav said the opposition leaders will hit the ground running for the 2024 elections soon after the ticket distribution.
- Sources told News18 that Congress may be asked to accommodate allies, especially given the war of words between the Samajwadi Party and the Mallikarjun Kharge-led party during Madhya Pradesh polls.
- Parliament security breaches and suspensions will be another important point of discussion amid plans by Opposition leaders to hold big agitations and protests even after the winter session.
- Sources said some parties plan to raise an alert and caution leaders not to make controversial comments, which may lead to falling into the trap of the Bharatiya Janata Party, like the controversy over ‘Sanatan Dharma‘.
- ‘Misuse’ of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) will also be raised, even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been summoned by ED on December 21.
- The main agenda, however, will be a “big and concrete step” toward seat-sharing for the 2024 polls.
INDIA Bloc Meet Comes Amid Reduced Strength in Parliament
The Opposition’s INDIA bloc lost almost half its strength in Rajya Sabha and one-third in Lok Sabha as 78 MPs in total were suspended on Monday for unruly behaviour and disregarding the directions of the Chair.
The INDIA bloc has 95 MPs in Rajya Sabha of which 45 were suspended on Monday. Their other MP, AAP’s Sanjay Singh, is behind bars in the Delhi liquor policy case and stands already suspended.
In the Lok Sabha, on the other hand, the opposition bloc has a total strength of 133 MPs of whom 46, or around one-third, stand suspended. The 46 include 33 suspended on Monday and 13 earlier.
After most of their leaders are suspended, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will have to spearhead the alliance’s attack in Rajya Sabha and Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M’s floor leader Elamaram Kareem and DMK floor leader Tiruchi Siva will also have to lead the opposition charge along with Kharge in the upper house, as others stand suspended.
Among the floor leaders suspended in Rajya Sabha are TMC’s Derek O’Brien and deputy leader Sukhendu Sekhar Ray; RJD floor leader Manoj Kumar Jha; Samajwadi Party’s leader in the house Ram Gopal Yadav; JDU floor leader Ram Nath Thakur; JMM leader Mahua Maji; Kerala Congress (M) floor leader Jose K Mani and CPI leader in house Binoy Viswam.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and deputy leader Gaurav Gogoi have been suspended and so are their chief whip K Suresh and whip Manickam Tagore.
Congress whip in the lower house Ravneet Singh Bittu and leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari will have to lead the opposition party’s charge now in the absence of other leaders.
The suspension triggered a political slugfest with opposition members terming the action a “murder of democracy” and BJP leader and union minister Piyush Goyal claiming that the action was necessary as the opposition MPs insulted the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman.
Other INDIA Alliance-related Updates
• Meanwhile, posters have come up in Bihar’s Patna with the message for the INDIA alliance: If you want to win, you need to make one decision. And that decision should be Nitish Kumar.