New Delhi: Floor leaders of 17 parties of the INDIA opposition bloc Wednesday met at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and discussed steps to be taken to improve coordination among them to take on the BJP in Lok Sabha elections.
Kharge had invited the leaders over dinner and another meeting would be held in the third week of December that will be attended by top leaders including some chief ministers from the opposition parties.
Among Congress leaders present at Kharge’s residence were former party chief Rahul Gandhi, its leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Pramod Tiwari, besides general secretaries K C Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh.
The opposition leaders present at the meeting included Mahua Majhi of JMM, Vaiko of MDMK, N K Premchandran (RSP), Binoy Viswam (CPI), Lalan Singh of JDU, Ram Gopal Yadav and ST Hasan of SP, Jayant Chaudhary of RLD.
Besides, Vandana Chavan of NCP, Raghav Chadha of AAP, Tiruchi Siva of DMK, and Congress leaders Gaurav Gogoi, Naseer Hussain, and Rajani Patil were also present at the meeting that started around 7 PM and continued for an hour.
Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M), Faiyaz Ahmad (RJD), Jose K Mani of Kerala Congress (M), Javed Ali Khan (SP), TR Baalu (DMK), Hasnain Masoodi (NC) and Mohd Basheer (IUML) also attended the meeting.
No leader of the TMC, which is part of the INDIA bloc, however, attended the meeting. Party sources did not specify a reason for not attending the meeting but said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to attend the meeting of opposition parties in the third week of December.
Today’s meeting assumes significance as it comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in the elections in three Hindi heartland states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh — while the Congress won the poll battle in Telangana.
There have been rumblings within the INDIA bloc after the Congress’s electoral loss in the three Hindi heartland states, with the SP, which was miffed after being ignored in seat sharing, expressing its displeasure openly.
Leaders of parties such as the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Janata Dal (United), and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have said the Congress should be more accommodating when it comes to its regional allies.
At least 26 parties came together as part of the INDIA bloc to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and have so far held three rounds of deliberations in Patna, Bengaluru, and Mumbai.
Sources said the opposition leaders would now plan joint rallies that were put on hold due to the assembly elections. One such rally planned in the first week of October in Bhopal was cancelled at the last moment.
Talks on seat-sharing between regional outfits would also gain momentum now, they said.