22 Opposition parties may meet to chalk out plan to corner govt

In a show of unity when the political odds are weighed heavily against them, 22 opposition parties are likely to meet soon to chalk out a plan for a united “people’s movement” against the government. The meeting—most likely to take place online—will be held before Parliament’s monsoon session begins on September 14. according to opposition leaders involved in planning the event.

A similar meeting took place on May 22 in which the parties were critical of the Modi government’s decision to impose a nationwide lockdown in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease () pandemic, called the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus and relief package a “cruel joke” on the country and how under the current regime, “the spirit of federalism is all but forgotten”.

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The upcoming meeting is expected to chalk out a plan to launch a campaign espousing key issues, keeping in mind keeping in mind related restrictions. The leaders have identified the government’s “failure in both containing the pandemic and providing relief,” the need to “protect the constitutional order which is being eroded” and the need to give “immediate relief to people” in the backdrop of economic troubles, the leaders cited above said.

The parties will also discuss how the Centre and its agencies “acted with bias” in the February communal violence in Delhi violence that left 53 people dead and how “any voice of dissent is dubbed anti-national, invoking sedition or UAPA provisions,” the leaders involved in the planning said. UAPA is short for the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act .

The Congress, or the largest opposition party, will be at the centre-stage of this programme that will also try to showcase united protests. According to one opposition leader involved in the planning, “We wanted to hold it in August but the Congress managers told us they are preoccupied in the Rajasthan crisis. Then, they wanted time till the CWC {Congress Working Committee} meetinggets over. Now, we are trying to talk to each other to decide on a suitable date.”

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Apart from top leaders of the Congress, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, his West Bengal and Jharkhand counterparts Mamata Banerjee and Hemant Soren, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s MK Stalin, Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury, and leaders of the Communist Party of India, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Indian Union Muslim League, National Conference, All India United Democratic Front and Rashtriya Janata Dal are expected to join the meeting.

Smaller parties such as Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Forward Bloc, Kerala Congress (Mani), Swabhiman Paksh, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Telangana Jana Samithi will also be invited.

The meeting may also set the agenda of the Opposition for Parliament’s monsoon session, but the main topic of discussion is a larger fight against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

As Covid-related restrictions also include a ban on big political congregations, the parties will have to settle for an online campaign and hold small demonstrations to reach out to their supporters.

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