Mumbai: On day two of the third INDIA bloc meeting organised in Mumbai, the 27-party coalition passed a resolution to contest elections together.
In the resolution, INDIA – the acronym for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – said:
“We, the INDIA parties, hereby resolve to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible. Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take.”
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Bal Thackeray) leader Aditya Thackeray read out the resolution in the meeting that started at 3.30 pm.
This is the third meeting of the alliance after the ones organised in Bengaluru and Patna earlier this year. The alliance parties, which include many major and smaller political organisations from across states, initiated crucial discussions to give structure to their cooperation and crystallise their plans about seat sharing and a common agenda to take on the National Democratic Alliance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The alliance, in the resolution, announced that they would jointly organise public rallies at the earliest in various parts of the country on issues of public concern and importance.
The campaign will be themed ‘Judega Bharat, jiteega India’ which loosely translates to ‘united India will ensure India wins’. The alliance has resolved to take the campaign across India under this banner.
In the two-day meeting, the INDIA bloc was also able to form a 14-member central committee, a campaign committee, a media committee and a social media working group.
The central committee includes K.C. Venugopal of the Congress, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Raghav Chaddha of the Aam Aadmi Party, Abhishek Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, Jawed Ali Khan of the Samajwadi Party, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, T.R. Baalu of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena (UBT), Lallan Singh of the Janata Dal (United), Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party, and D. Raja of the Communist Party of India. The CPI(M) will give a name later.
The campaign committee will have, among others Congress’s Gurdeep Singh Sappal, JD(U)’s Sanjay Jha and AAP’s Sanjay Singh.
The ‘working group for social media’ will have Congress’s Supriya Shrinate and AAP’s Raghav Chaddha among others. The media group will have Congress’s Jairam Ramesh, NCP’s Jitendra Ahwad and RJD’s Manoj Jha, among others.
A group for research will include Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and JD(U)’s K.C. Tyagi, among others.
‘Allowed Modi to get ahead’
“This stage comprises of 60 percent of India,” said Congress’s Rahul Gandhi. “If these parties unite, it is impossible for BJP to come back on power. Now we need to work effectively. For this a coordination team has been set up,” he added.
“I can see there is flexibility among the leaders. There are differences, of course. But I am impressed how they are willing to iron them out,” Gandhi also said.
Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar said at the presser at the end that the parties have decided to work together and soon, people will see them in power.
“More than us, you [the media] will be free. You are all in their control. When we come in power, you will be able to release yourself from their grip,” he said.
Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal said that in the coming days, media will be “forced to show controversies and make it sound like there is infighting,” in the alliance, but after attending all meetings he “can say that everyone is together for 140 crore people and no one is here for seats.”
M. K. Stalin, leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, spoke in Tamil and said the banner of INDIA has united the parties.
Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav said that the fact that “we were all sitting separately had allowed Modi to go ahead.”
“This cost the country dearly. We have, since the start, have been saying BJP hatao, desh bachao [remove BJP, save the country]. And now we see that the minority aren’t safe in the country.” he said.
“Saving India and then changing India for better is our motto,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Meeting a success, says Kharge
Calling the meet a “success”, Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the Indian National Congress, on his social media account said, “The success of both our meetings, first in Patna and second in Bengaluru, can be measured by the fact that the Prime Minister in his subsequent speeches has not just attacked INDIA but has also compared the name of our beloved country with a terrorist organisation and a symbol of slavery.”
He further wrote that the parties in the alliance are ready to face attacks from the ruling regime. “We are ready to face more raids and arrests due to this government’s vendetta politics,” he said.
The success of both our meetings, first in Patna and second in Bengaluru, can be measured by the fact that the Prime Minister in his subsequent speeches has not just attacked INDIA but has also compared the name of our beloved country with a terrorist organisation and a symbol… pic.twitter.com/mlTr7dVJtX
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) September 1, 2023
In the press conference right after the reading of the resolution, Kharge said, “All parties have come together and discussed all issues meticulously. We have been making an effort for such a meeting and alliance for a long time.”
He added that even in Bengaluru and Patna, and “before that in a meeting at [his] residence where Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar, and Rahul Gandhi had attended, we had discussed our agenda at length even then.”
Price rise and Modi government’s ‘corruption’
Kharge highlighted the price hike and said every party was “unanimously” worried about it.
“Modi ji first increases the price by Rs 100 and then announces a reduction of Rs 2. This happened with petrol price and now with LPG . The price hasn’t come down. It is the poor who suffer because of this price hike. Modi will never work for the poor, this is very clear…He only works for his business interests and his friends in business,” he added.
Yesterday, following the news in the international newspapers Financial Times and The Guardian, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had organised a press briefing in Mumbai. In it, he had openly criticised prime minister Narendra Modi for his “uncomfortable silence” on Adani group.
To this, Kharge today said in his written press statement: “Gandhi demanded a JPC probe into charges of round tripping and reports of Opaque Investment from Mauritius based company. It is unexplainable why the Prime Minister is not getting the matter investigated?”
AAP leader Kejriwal also touched upon the topic when he said the Modi government was so corrupt that “global media is now pointing fingers at us.” He also called this government the most corrupt in India’s history.
“Our youth don’t have employment but the government is collectively working for one company. People have no income but the government is willing to divert all funds to one person,” he added.
“The responsibility that people had handed over to BJP, the same party is exploiting these very people,” Sharad Pawar said.
Lalu also said that the Modi government had lied and resorted to cheap tactics to come to power. “They claimed many of us, including me, had money deposited in Swiss bank. Modi also claimed post-demonetisation, each one of us will get Rs 15 lakhs in our accounts. My family, which you know is quite large, opened an account too. We thought the money will come,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi, also, said that the prime minister and BJP “are a nexus of corruption” which the INDIA parties “will now be exposing with evidence.”
“I spent a week in Ladakh. I was right in the lake where the Chinese were. The shepherds and leaders of Pangong Lake categorically said that the Chinese have taken over the Indian land and that the prime minister is lying. The people of Ladakh know it fully well that they have been betrayed by the PM. There are clear changes on the borders. Unfortunately the press isn’t raising these issues,” Gandhi also added.
INDIA leaders on the ‘misuse of agencies’
Kharge also wrote of the rise in communal violence across different states. “The communal poison that the BJP and RSS have spread over the last nine years is now seen in hate crimes against innocent train passengers and against innocent school children,” he said.
Kharge, in his press statement has additionally said, “The more ground our alliance gains, the more the BJP government will misuse agencies against our leaders. It has done the same in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bengal. In fact, last week, it was done in Jharkhand and in Chhattisgarh.”
In the press conference he also touched upon this. “All autonomous bodies have been destroyed over the past decade. From ED to CBI every autonomous body has knelt before Modi,” he added.
“When Manipur was burning, you didn’t call for a special session. You didn’t call one during COVID-19 or demonetisation. But you are calling for a special session now. There is no sense to his decisions,” he said in the presser.
The talks that began early morning today and continued until 2 pm. Forty eight leaders of the 28 parties were present at the meeting. Media persons gathered at the venue – a five-star hotel in the Mumbai suburbs – were denied access until the just before the 3.30 pm press conference.